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Airports Driven By Existing Economic Realities–Minister

… Says Nigerian airlines can benefit from bilateral agreements

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has said that airports anywhere in the world are driven by the economic realities of a particular area.

Amaechi stated this when he featured on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.

He, therefore, advised state governments intending to build airports to always take the economic realities in their areas into consideration

“There is one airport that my former colleague was subsidising for passengers to use even though now the airport has picked up a bit.

“There are some airports in some parts of the country that only chartered flights go to.

“That is why I have said that it is economic realities that drive an airport.

“Dubai maritime activities is free because goods come and they act as a transition and when the goods come you come there, unload and transit to your country.

“So it is those economic activities that would help build an airport.

“Take for instance, my friend and former colleague, who was the governor of Delta State, I was like why did you build an airport in Asaba when there is one at Benin?

“I told him that he could have used the money used on that airport to build schools and so on.

“He said the activities in Onitsha can fund that airport and that is complete.

“In fact, if by tomorrow they apply for international flight and I have the capacity to give them apprtoval, I will do that.

“Most of those who trade outside of Onitsha can export their products through Asaba and that makes economic sense.’’

Amaechi, said that payment for the use of trolleys at the airports was not peculiar to Nigeria.

He said it was the trend in a lot of airports across the world.

“There are so many airports you go to and you have to pay for the use of trolleys.

“In Washington DC for instance, you have to put your dollar in and pick your stuff; it is not a Nigerian thing alone.

“An airport runs itself. If it’s viable, somebody will come and say he wants to supply trolleys because he knows that he will make money from it.

“I am not saying they are not right, but I am saying it’s a thing that is very rare.

“There are areas you go, you get free trolleys and there are areas you go and you pay and Nigeria is one of those areas where you pay for their use because an airport should run itself.’’

Amaechi,  also says every Nigerian airline can benefit from the Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) the country signs with others.

According to the minister, the bilateral agreements will help private airlines fly to the countries Nigeria has signed BASA with without restriction.

“Bilateral service does not mean that Nigeria will have a national carrier and then the national carrier will go to Qatar or go to Paris. No.

“It means that if you decide to buy your own aircraft and do foreign trip to convey passengers to Qatar, you can benefit from the BASA agreement.

“The BASA becomes a service to you. It is just like we did for Arik to UK and we have done it for Medview.

“If by tomorrow you wake up and say you want to be flying into the Qatar airport and that you will be conveying passenger from Lagos, or Abuja, or Port Harcourt to Qatar, BASA serves that purpose.

“The BASA just enables our private investors to go into business in those areas that we have signed the agreement with.’’

Amaechi said Nigeria had tried to meet the requirement of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) by providing infrastructure and addressing safety issues at its airports.

He said passing ICAO audit was an indication that the nation was meeting the safety and security standards set by the global aviation regulatory body.

The minister added that a beautiful airport in itself did not translate to a safe and secure airspace.

He said a safe Nigerian airspace remained the priority of the present administration.

According to him, private investors will be encouraged to invest in the nation’s aviation industry through provision of airport infrastructure to create an enabling environment for business to survive.

“What Nigerians refer to as aviation is the terminal. Meanwhile the most important part of aviation is safety and we addressed safety immediately we came to office.

“The fact that we passed the ICAO requirement is an indication that we are meeting international standards in aviation.

“Most Nigerians don’t know that it is not the country that builds an airport; it is the economic realities.

“If the economic activity in Nigeria is so huge that every day you wake up more and more aircrafts are coming and more and more people are coming, businessmen will just come and say, `can we build airports for you?’.’’(NAN)

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