We Can Make Local Airlines Do 24 Hrs Flight Operations - FAAN MD

The Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Engineer Saleh Dunoma fielded questions from selected Aviation reporters on the relationship between the agency and airline operators and the general state of our country's airports. Below are excerpts.

AIRLINES always complain that they could have been operating late into the night in some airports if there were runway lighting. Is there anything you are doing to provide lighting at the runways of more airports?

Most of our airports have runway lighting. We have just installed solar runway lighting in six or seven airports: in Yola, Benin, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, and Kano. So most of these airports that require night operations have these facilities but what we do in order not to incur too much cost for FAAN, is to switch off power when there are no operations. We reduce the hour of operation to 18 hours, so immediately after the last flight in the evening we close the airport. We will not open it until there is emergency.

Minimum lighting

Closure does not mean that everybody closes and goes home, no, closure means that you have minimum lighting, few number of people at the airport; so that in the case of emergency operations we can just put everything on.

If public supply of power continues to be steady, would it still be necessary to be closing the airport?

Of course, with the public power supply we still pay. So all you need to do is to conserve energy, they will also need the power somewhere; power is not just consumed by FAAN. If we are not using it they can divert it and send it to some other places that it is needed.

There is no point for us when we know that there is no flight plan to the airport, then we put on the airfield lighting and everything and start burning energy for no operations. We have our generators and everything but just to make sure that we don't waste energy we now shut down. And then if there is a request that they need to use this airport at these hours,we will put them on.

There has always been a plan to have a second runway at the Abuja airport and so far the present administration has indicated interest to build it. What is the level of preparation, and if you were to locate it,where would you put it in Abuja airport?

Well, the second runway is very important; it is key to our operations. The present runway has deteriorated so much such that we need to do a major work on it to make it better. So the second runway will be necessary.

You cannot afford to close Abuja airport because it is the seat of government and it is important to our economy. A committee was setup last year between FAAN and Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and we have come out with a scope of what we want in terms of the facilities that should be included in the second runway design.

That scope has been developed, we have also advertised both nationally and internationally for consultant that will develop that scope into working drawings and bill of quantities so that we can both tender them. But we are yet to select the consultatant because the process of procuring a consulting firm is what we are doing.

Already, preliminary survey has been carried out in Abuja by our in-house engineers; we have a fair idea of the location of the second runway and the facilities that we need to provide there. Because we need to provide link taxiways, taxiways, aprons and some other things that will make both the new and the existing facility work together as an airport.

These locations have been identified, it is part of the brief that we are going to give the consultant; that this is the area that we want the second runway to be located and these are the facilities we want to be included in this project and the consultant will go ahead to do a detailed survey, detailed design and a detailed bill of quantity will come out with which government can go to tender.

Approximate location

So we have an approximate location but of course during the design, the tendency is that the consultant will make some adjustment in order to make sure that he optimises the place in terms of optimal cost because if you change the location then it will also affect the cost. So he will choose the best place to have best cost for government work.

We saw the advance level of work at the new terminals that are being built, but there are projections that in the next five years you may be building other new terminals for international services at those airports due to projected upsurge of passenger traffic?

No. I don't think so the capacities are good enough because what we have done in these new terminals is that we do not provide for offices, we just provided strictly passenger facilitation facilities. If you look at Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos and Abuja airport there are so many offices in the terminals; so, a large percentage of the space within the building has been taken up by offices and operational space.

In these new terminals it is not like that; all that we have is passenger processing facilities and shops, commercial offerings, so a lot of passengers can be processed through that. We are also trying to link them with the existing terminals so that they can work together.

We are sure that it will take us quite some time depending on passenger's growth, but it will take quite some time to start thinking of another terminal or expansion. These new terminals are strictly for passenger processing and commercial offerings, no offices.

Airport certification. What arrangements are you making with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)?

NCAA has given us the list of the "open gaps that we need to close;" we are working on those closures. In fact, committees have been setup in the two airports: Abuja and Lagos. We have assigned responsibilities to individual offices and departments in order to close these gaps. We have also given them timeline, although that will depend on resources that we are able to give them. But we are working together with NCAA, in fact they are in the committee, so that whatever we are doing in order to close those identified gaps, we work together with them so that they see how and what procedures we are using in order to close those gaps.

Do you think Lagos can ever have a very efficient perimeter fencing looking at the way people encroach FAAN's territory; Is there any measure you have taken or intend to take to curtail their entry to your land?

Lagos has a very efficient fence now because we have two types of fence around the airport. We have what we call the boundary fence and it is the boundary fence that we have issues with. Because a lot of land encroachers have come and built houses very close to our fence and some of them in fact extended our perimeter fence to be part of their fence which is not allowed.

But we have made some progress in that area, we went to court with the people that are living around Shasha and we won the case. So we are just at the verge of implementing the court decision, they are wrong and the court rules in our favour, so we are going to take action. This is a signal to other people in other locations that are encroaching on our land that one-day the same thing will happen to them.

So I am warning people that are living very close to the airport to desist from encroaching on airport land. We are working closely with the Lagos State government; they are going to help us to make sure that all those that are within our safety zones are removed from that place. And the Lagos state government is going to help us in getting that done.
Now we have the second type of fence, which is the operational fence, that one is intact. It covers the aircraft maneuvering area, so that nobody gets access into that area except staff that have something to do there and is well equipped with a two-way radio communication and other gadgets.

Two-way radio communication

And these staff are normally either maintenance or inspectors or people that are authorised to go into that operational area or security. These are the only people that are within the operational area and they have a reason to be there. Before they get there, there are procedures also for them to get there.

People outside believe that with the size of FAAN, the agency should be making more than double of what it is making now. What is your revenue drive now, and is there any measure to curtail cash movement for things to run on computer system without people handling cash?

Of course we have reduced cash handling drastically, I remember some years back everything we did was collected by cash but all these are not there now except of course the toll gate which is a bit difficult for us. But any other revenue is paid through the banks. Now, we have International Air Transport Association (IATA), for example, collecting all the landing and parking charges and the passengers service charge on our behalf. And every two weeks this money is transferred to FAAN account.

IATA is a clearing house for all the airlines, they have a system already in place where travel agents sell tickets on their behalf and these travel agents pay the money to IATA.

So it is easy for them to collect our money. Of course, IATA takes this money at the end of the day and shares it, part of the money is ours, that is the passengers service charge and landing and parking. So this is automatically deducted on that platform and it is sent straight to FAAN account. Now with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) it goes straight to the Central Bank, so we access it from there to pay our salaries and do other things.

Our concessionaires also, we bill them, they pay straight to our account at the Central Bank before now it was commercial bank, but with TSA it goes straight to the Central Bank. Nobody handles any cash any more, normally as we send the bill you will see at the bottom of the bill the account number, so you pay it straight to that account. So we don t handle cash, the only area that still deals with cash is the tollgate. At the tollgate we are trying to improve on that, some people are doing a study for us as soon as that study is completed we believe that it is something that will be workable for us. We will implement it and even at the tollgate we will not have cash.

We have started to some extent even at the toll gate we have cards and these cards have a price and this price will cover you for certain period of time. Just like what you do with your Internet, you load something on the card, you use it and at the end of the month you need to recharge it. We have started something like that but there are people that come once in a while, but for regular airport users that is working for them. But the people that come once in a while, we need to find a way of either using their credit card but we are conducting a study and it is not yet finalized.

Do you think that measure will curb or eliminate stowaway incidents?

Stowaway is not within the operational area; it is when you bring the aircraft to their parking bay that you have cases of stowaway. They don't park at the aircraft maneouvering area because they are always moving. From the stories of the stowaway we have had so far, it is when they park at the hangar that you have these kinds of issues.

Even the recent incidences that we have, we have reviewed our procedures and we have improved on it. That is why now, for quite some time we have not had any cases of stowaway.

I find out that some other security operatives at the airport are not submitting themselves to Aviation Security (AVSEC) directives, what are you doing to ensure they dovetailed to AVSEC security apparatus?

I don't believe in what you are saying because every security agent that is at the airport has a specialized responsibility. AVSEC provides general security, Customs have their own responsibility, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), State Security Service (SSS), all of them have specialised responsibility and everybody should be on top of what they are doing in terms of their specialised responsibility at the airport.

But FAAN provides the general security, so FAAN does the entire passenger processing. Now if any arrest is made depending on the kind of offence the person has committed you normally take it to the specialised security agency that is at the airport. And this is working perfectly, I am not saying that we don't have areas of dispute but these areas of dispute are things they resolve. Of course, if you bring people like that to work together the tendency is that there is a lot of overlapping in responsibilities and then there are little conflicts here and there.

But the security committee in each airport is a forum for them to resolve these issues. I have not heard any issue that has come to me that is irresolvable, they have always resolved their issues and they are working together.

People outside believe that with the size of FAAN the agency should be making more than double of what it is making now. What is your revenue drive now and is there any measure to curtail cash movement for things to run on computer system without people handling cash?

Of course we have reduced cash handling drastically, I remember some years back everything we did was collected by cash but all these are not there now except of course the toll gate which is a bit difficult for us. But any other revenue is paid through the banks. Now we have International Air Transport Association (IATA), for example, collecting all the landing and parking charges and the passengers service charge on our behalf. And every two weeks this money is transferred to FAAN account.

Because IATA is clearing house for all the airlines, because they have a system already in place where travel agents sell tickets on their behalf and these travel agents pay the money to IATA. So it is easy for them to collect our money. Of course, IATA takes this money at the end of the day and shares it, part of the money is ours, that is the passengers service charge and landing and parking. So this is automatically deducted on that platform and it is sent straight to FAAN account. Now with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) it goes straight to the Central Bank, so we access it from there to pay our salaries and do other things.

Our concessionaires also, we bill them, they pay straight to our account at the Central Bank before now it was commercial bank, but with TSA it goes straight to the Central Bank. Nobody handles any cash any more, normally as we send the bill you will see at the bottom of the bill the account number, so you pay it straight to that account. So we don t handle cash, the only area that still deals with cash is the tollgate. At the tollgate we are trying to improve on that, some people are doing a study for us as soon as that study is completed we believe that it is something that will be workable for us. We will implement it and even at the tollgate we will not have cash.

We have started to some extent even at the toll gate we have cards and these cards have a price and this price will cover you for certain period of time. Just like what you do with your Internet, you load something on the card, you use it and at the end of the month you need to recharge it. We have started something like that but there are people that come once in a while, but for regular airport users that is working for them. But the people that come once in a while, we need to find a way of either using their credit card but we are conducting a study and it is not yet finalized.

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By 9jatravel / Administrator, bbp_keymaster

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on Oct 22, 2015

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