11 December 2018

Nigeria: Lagos, Osubi Airports Operate As FAAN Suspends Shutdown

Flight operations continued uninterrupted yesterday at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal II (MMA2) in Lagos and Osubi Airfield in Warri, Delta State, among others, despite earlier notice by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to shutdown the facilities over alleged indebtedness.

Also unaffected, contrary to earlier information, were airports at Kebbi, Gombe and Bebi, in Obudu, Cross River State.

The Guardian learnt that FAAN suspended the move following public outcry on the impact of the proposed shutdown and the rekindled interest by the facility operators to negotiate their debt.

However, the management of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operator of MMA2, has re-emphasised not owing FAAN, and would continue to run seamless flight operations and services at the terminal.

The Guardian had reported yesterday that FAAN planned to withdraw its services from the affected airports to protest against indebtedness of over N2.608 billion allegedly owed by the facilities.

FAAN, in a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) worldwide on Saturday said it would be withdrawing aviation security, fire-fighting and rescue operations beginning midnight Sunday, December 9, 2018. Experts described these as safety critical services without which no airport could process flights.

While some airlines had already reordered their schedule and cancelled some flights, the airports remained opened to flight services, though at lower patronage.

General Manager, Public Affairs at FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, told reporters that negotiations had commenced and "the shutdown is not taking place any longer."

"The affected airports are ready for negotiation and because people will go through hardship as a result of service withdrawal owing to surge in travelling at this period of the year, we have commenced negotiations with them to deal with the issues," Yakubu said.

It was, however, not clear if FAAN had updated the global aviation community of the latest development by NOTAM, as some stakeholders had withdrawn their operations from the listed airports.

For instance, Arik Air had withdrawn from MMA2 and has still not returned as at press time yesterday.

BASL, in a statement yesterday, said they were not unaware of FAAN's allegation of N1.9 billion indebtedness and threat to withdraw aviation security personnel, rescue and fire-fighting services from the terminals.

BASL said the threat had been formally responded to in a letter addressed to FAAN reiterating BASL's stance on the demand for payment of purported outstanding liabilities.

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