The recent executive order signed by Nigeria’s Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on May 18, 2017 precisely have started yielding dividends at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
The three executive orders signed by the Acting President include: the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment, set to facilitate ease of doing business in Nigeria; support for local content in public procurement by the government and timely submission of annual budgetary estimates by all statutory and non-statutory agencies.
Airports businesses fall majorly on the aspect of promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment, aimed at facilitating ease of doing business in the country. The management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), as the leading agency managing the over 22 airports across the country knows this and since then, Nigerian airports have experienced drastic transformations, particularly, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja; Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano amongst others.
Hitherto, when the executive order was pronounced, though FAAN has been making efforts to give its passengers seamless travel experience, however, with the issuance of executive order, FAAN has extended a firmer commitment to airports across the country.
Using the Murtala Muhammed International Airport as an example, the number one gateway has enjoyed great transformation to the admiration of local and international travelers. The Lagos airport is fast becoming the pride of most African travellers who are either going out or coming into the country.
Since the security agencies at the checking points have been streamlined, both arriving and departing passengers now experience stress free movement while all the scanners, conveyor belts are functioning optimally. The security agencies at the few screening points remaining, in view of the executive order on the need for ease of doing business, are always alert to facilitate free and safe movements of passengers both day and night.
While the toilets at the E-wing and other areas have been refurbished, check-in-hall at the airport are now livelier with flight information display board positioned. Airport security and other logistics have also been upgraded and strengthened to ease seamless services for both local and international travellers.
New directional display units have been provided to guide travellers, especially new ones, at the airports. Airport instructional banners have also been displayed at strategic locations to educate newcomers. The hitherto embarrassing leaking roof of ‘D Wing’ has since been fixed while continuous upgrade of facilities are still ongoing. At the Lagos airports, all these facilities are complimented with a multi-story car park building located closely to the airport terminal for ease of access.
Also, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the story is the same as the time needed to move from terminal main entrance to departure terminal which has been lacking has been put in place thus making passengers movement now seamless.
In the past few months, the Abuja airport has been wearing a new look with all the facilities functioning at optimal level. Entering the departure hall of the airport, one is greeted with a flight information display board which is conspicuously positioned for all passengers to see from any angle.
FAAN has also furnished and renovated the D-wing of the airport to international standard while all the toilet facilities in other areas are now working efficiently 24 hour per day. To ease seamless entry and exit to the airport, the agency recently made a slight change in her domestic operations while it also alerted all air passengers, airport users, stakeholders and the public of the new development. Apart from flight information board, there are also directional signs to properly guide all passengers on where to check in, board or purchase flight tickets. According to FAAN management, Arik Air now operates at Terminal B, along with Azman, First Nation, Overland and Med-View while Aero Contractors, Air Peace and Dana Air operate at Terminal D of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja with effect from Tuesday, July 25, 2017.
Apart from MMIA and NAIA, there are a wide array of works going on at MAKIA, Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Kaduna International Airport, AkanuIbiam International Airport, Enugu amongst others.
Speaking on the commitment of FAAN to security, the Acting General Manager, Public Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu declared that in as much as the agency is ready to comply with the order, FAAN cannot compromise safety in all aspects of their operations. For example, according to her, FAAN cannot completely eradicate manual checks during arrivals and departure, but she emphasised, however that such checks could be done when a security agent wants to confirm his or her suspicion.
“FAAN cannot compromise security. So we are working with the security agencies, airlines and others. When there is a need to search baggage manually, we do so, but that takes place at the baggage hall, not within the purview of where the passengers are.”
To ensure aviation security, FAAN maintains high standard of aviation security screening across the nation’s airports, with the recent facilitation of the training of about 35 aviation security personnel who underwent counter terrorism training organised by the United Nations. The 35 graduands, who are master trainers are already being integrated into the system to train other aviation security experts.
In line with the development, the menace of touts at the airport has been tackled headlong, to prevent innocent passengers from falling into the hands of touts, passengers who don’t like going to the counters to purchase tickets, the FAAN image maker disclosed that the authority has already opened up passengers’ support services for such category of passengers at the airports.
“If you go to the airport now it is very sterile. We have been able to handle the issue of the touts; you know we are working with the police. Nobody that has no business in the airport should get into the airport now. It is either you have a boarding pass or you have staff ID or a visitors’ card. If you don’t have any of these documents, you are not allowed into the airport,” she said.
On May 31, 2017, FAAN passed the mock test of aircraft emergency simulation exercise conducted at the international wing of the Lagos airport to test their readiness in times of emergencies and check her status in view of the upcoming certification of the airport. The exercise which was adjudged as a very successful exposure, drew stakeholders from relevant government agencies including NEMA, NAMA, FRSC, FAAN, Police Anti Bomb Squad, LASEMA, Nigerian Air Force and NCAA.
Confirming the agency’s readiness for the certification of major airports in the nation by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), FAAN stated that five major international airports namely Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu, have been slated for certification in quick succession.
FAAN stated that pending gaps have been closed already and safety has been its driving force all through the preparatory stage.The Murtala Muhammed International Airport will be the first in line for certification, while Abuja and the other three will also follow.
Expressing confidence that the airports will come out in flying colours, the authority noted that the successful completion of this process will drastically reduce the high cost of insurance and also place the airports in good pedestal, while also ensuring effectiveness and efficiency.
In his views, the president of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliu, confirmed that Abuja is of standard and that FAAN is working.
Dr Aliu who toured the airport recently said “from the briefing we received, it was a work well done and timely too, because it is important for safety operations. We also inspected other facilities. The work on the runway that was done, the markings and all that, are also part of the process to enable the aerodrome certification. The certification of Abuja airport, we see that the agencies are working towards that. What is important at the end of the day is that work is completed and the aerodromes are certified in accordance to ICAO standards.”
The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman in his assessment of the airports for certification said “the certification process is in five stages and Lagos is at the fourth stage. The fifth stage is just the signing of the certificate. So, we can say it is almost at the point of certification. Abuja will be certified too, once Lagos is finished, we will concentrate more. Even at Abuja, some of the things that we needed to put in place were taken care of during the closure of the Abuja airport. As I said, there are five stages; the pre-application, formal application, document and evaluation of document, operational demonstration. At this stage, all the document you put forward, the way you operate, we want to see. Whatever lessons we learn in the certification of Lagos will be applied in the certification of Abuja. And whatever we learn in the process of certifying Lagos and Abuja, will be applied towards certifying Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu airports. And subsequently, we intend to go beyond the international airports.