The failure of nine Nigerian airports now dubbed “Sunset” airports, to operate for 24-hours has constituted a N4.3Billion financial loss to the Nigerian economy.
The airports which are situated in Jos, Yola, Maiduguri, Anambra, Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina, Ibadan, and Akure all have limited operational hours which ends at (6:00 PM).
The lack of a 24-hours operational schedule in these airports is attributed to the lack of a functional lighting facility in the airport which in turn, would support the operational activities that mostly run into the night in major airports.
This was revealed by a major stakeholder in the aviation industry and the chief operating officer of Ibom Air, George Uriesi.
Uriesi disclosed that this challenge was a major factor that impeded the growth of the airline business in the country.
While summarizing the financial implications of the night-time operation challenge, Uriesi stated that the country’s carriers lose an average of N4.3 billion annually on every flight lost to sunset airport operations.
Out of 22 airports managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, only six airports which include – Abuja, Port Harcourt, Benin City, Enugu, Kano, and Kaduna, have functional airfield lighting which enables flights to land and take off on or after 6.30 PM.
On the way forward, the aviation expert advised the federal government to prioritize airfield infrastructure and provide the necessary Instrument Landing System (ILS) and accompanying accessories for all airports.
He also advised on the need to keep the aerodromes open to meet the needs of airlines and other users.
Apart from the airports, the airline operators and passengers feel the ugly repercussions of this setback.
Another stakeholder in the aviation sector and the chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo also lamented that the issue has adversely affected airline operations as it forces them to limit their operations to 6:30 pm.
He also revealed that the inability of airline operators to land and take off from these daylight airports on or after 6.30 pm causes airlines huge revenues as they have to cancel flights more frequently.
The passengers in turn, also turn victims of these flight cancellations as they have on so many occasions, taken out their frustration on the airport authorities when such incidents occur.