The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has reacted to the rating of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, as the third and fifth worst airports in the world respectively by the well-known online medium, sleepinairports.net.
The Managing Director of FAAN, Saleh Dunoma, condemned the rating and said it does not reflect the facts about the two airports, noting that the Port Harcourt airport is under construction; therefore, it is wrong to rate it.
It added that the Lagos airport which was recently certified as meeting all the safety conditions and other regulatory standards by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) cannot be lowly rated because it has met all passenger needs over the years.
In carpeting the rating by sleepinairports.net, Dunoma noted that airports are not meant to be a sleeping place but a place meant to process passengers and serve as departure and arrival facility for travellers; so it is expected that travellers or other airport users who wished to sleep should go to hotels.
"Let me tell you, we in the aviation industry have organisations that are overseeing us. There is International Civil Aviation Organisation which has to do with safety and security. We have ACI (Airport Council International) that is also looking at safety, security and economics of the airport. We have IATA (the International Air Transport Association) which is an association of the airlines and all these groupings especially the ICAO and the CAAs (Civil Aviation Authority), are there to look at safety.
"That is why we do the certification; can any organisation come out and say, no; Abuja airport is not certified or Lagos airport is not certified?
"People are looking at different things, airports are not designed for you to go and sleep they are designed for you to pass through as a passenger and get to your destination. Yes, some of them are designed for 24 hours but it is not designed for you to come and sleep. That is why if your flight is cancelled and the airlines have already checked you in, they will take you to a hotel. Even the biggest airport in the world does not have sleeping beds. Go to Dubai; maybe, they will give you a coach that you can stretch on but how many people can they accommodate to sleep at the airport?"
Dunoma said it was the need to deploy more funds to the development of airport infrastructure that the federal government took the decision to concession the nation's major airports, as depleting government resources cannot fund airport development in addition to providing other essential social needs to the citizenry; so the private sector has to be encouraged to invest in the industry.