Hadi Sirika, Honourable Minister for Aviation

Nigeria to launch new airports, terminal to revive aviation industry: Minister

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

In a strategic move to provide special support for the embattled aviation industry in the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria will open two more airports for operations by end of March 2021, while two more airports will follow thereafter.

It was learnt Hadi Sirika, Honourable Minister for Aviation, who disclosed this on the strength of the Nigeria’s National Action Committee on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), stated that new Malam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA) terminal and Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) would be open to the public for operations by end of March 2021.

The Minister reportedly said that Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA), Enugu terminal, would commence operations soon, but didn’t give a timeframe.

Sirika stated: “We also advocate special support for aviation industry specifically, to fast track systems upgrade in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu in a view to matching international best standards.

“In our own modest way in Nigeria, we have developed these five airports. We have completed Abuja, Port Harcourt and put to use. Kano is completed and will be put to use in March, Lagos will be put to use in the same March and Enugu in due course.” Sirika said.

On the importance of these developments in the country’s aviation sector, it is noted that the commencement of the airports and terminal are expected to boost Nigeria’s aviation revenue which took a hit during the lockdown induced by COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister had revealed May 2020, that Nigeria’s aviation sector lost N20 billion monthly since the lockdown.

Due to global lockdown, aviation industry worldwide could not conduct operations, as only humanitarian flights was allowed for operation globally during the lockdown which took about four months in Nigeria.

About N180 billion was lost by Nigerian travel industry in the first two months of the lockdown, according to former President, National Associations of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bankole Bernard.

Bernard was quoted to have said that about 24,000 jobs were cut during the lockdown. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) in April 2020, said African airlines could loss $6 billion in passenger revenue in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

Aviation industry contracted by 36.98 percent in 2020, reflecting the significance revenue loss by airlines.

The lockdown jacked up airlines’ cost of operations up upon resumption, and this resulted in airlines’ placing the cost burden on air passengers, with a ticket increasing from N33,000 to N70,000.

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