Stakeholders in the aviation sector have condemned Federal Government's plan to give the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, a second runway, saying the project lacks justification, especially in economic terms.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Adamu Aliero, had during the inspection of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja aerodrome at the weekend, said there was no going back on the construction of a second runway for the Abuja airport "because of the increasing passenger traffic and capacity for the airport."
Aliero said the National Assembly had already made provision for the second runway in the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
But experts are, however, of the view that the lawmaker's claim does not align with facts coming from the airport, which is still "under-utilised" by global standard.
In a statistics the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) made available to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, 41,932 flights (both landing and take-off by domestic and international airlines) were recorded across all airports in the first quarter of 2017.
Of the total, about 21,000 flights (over 50 per cent) of the flights were recorded in Lagos, while Abuja had 10,000 (25 per cent) of the share. Spread over four quarters, Abuja will record an average of 40,000 flights a year, while all 26 airports nationwide have an average of 167,728.
Secretary-General of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), said the most important in a modern airport is not the number of runways, but rather the quality of maintenance programme on ground, commensurate with number of flights it receives every day.
He said both the capacity and maintenance programme were still far-fetched.
He said: "None of our airports is qualified for a second runway. Our runways are under-utilised. The total air traffic landing in the 26 airports in the country is less than that of Heathrow with two runways or Gatwick with one runway.
"The problem of poor maintenance culture that characterised our public infrastructure is at the height of our want for reckless spending. As I talk with you, none of the airports' runways have periodic maintenance programmes as recommended by the documents supporting the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 14 for aerodrome's standards."
Also, Chief Executive Officer of Maevis Nigeria Limited, Tunde Fagbemi, said that the capacity of runways across the airports had not been fully utilised to justify the need for a second runway at any of the aerodromes.
Fagbemi said: "How many of our airports have that level of utilisation? That is why I considered it criminal to argue for another runway in Abuja when utilisation is less than 200 landing and takeoff a day."