The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria FAAN has identified development of the hospitality and tourism industries as the major ways to boost the aviation industry in Nigeria and the Port Harcourt international airport in particular.
The regional Manager, South South/South Eastern Nigeria, FAAN Mr Ojo Afolabi stated this after the inspection of facilities at the new International Airport Terminal, Port Harcourt by Voice of Nigeria and other journalists from the state.
He said the even distribution of wealth would create opportunities for people to save ahead for holidays due to being gainfully employed and would be willing to explore the world by travelling by air instead of using the road and train transport.
If we base Nigerian budget on hospitality and tourism industry, it would have a ripple effect on the economy, he stated.
The Regional Manager stated that the Nigerian government has done well by building a new international terminal for the Port Harcourt international airport adding that the airport is now ready to take as much as 36 flights per day to attract more airlines and passengers when there are incentives and rebate for airlines.
Afolabi urged the Nigerian government to look into creation of alternative route to the road within the Port Harcourt international airport, which leads to other community and poses security threat to the airport.
The airport is supposed to be for FAAN alone. This could be discouraging to airlines, passengers and every other stakeholder of the airport, Afolabi said.
He called for collaboration to ensure the construction of good roads and consistent electricity supply to the airport.
Afolabi stated that there are now three major airlines which have started full operation in the international terminal which includes Lufthansa, Airfrance, Cronos. Lufthansa plies PortHarcourt to Frankfurt Germany, Air France which takes off from Port Harcourt to Charles-De-Gaulle and Cronos airline which moves from Port Harcourt to Accra Ghana and Equatorial Guinea.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and ICAO projections, global air travel is expected to increase to 7.4 billion by 2030 which makes Nigeria more positioned to tap the benefit of expected from the sure of global air travel, he said.
Meanwhile, the minister of state on Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said the project was funded through the China-Exim bank loan of $500m with a US $100m counterpart fund facility.
At the Time this administration came on board, the level of work was below 30% and bedevilled with various technical challenges which included foundation design change, inaccessibility to Apron, inadequate Apron space,master plan distortion, water and sewage provision, inadequate power supply.
He said the Port Harcourt airport being the third busiest airport in Nigeria is very important to the Nigerian economy as it served 1,080,284 passengers in 2017 adding that the old terminal which is also under rehabilitation was unable to provide the requirements and space to handle such volume of passengers.
According to statistics, the new terminal has the capacity to process about 7million passengers annually covering a space of about 7million passengers annually covering a space of approximately 28, 000m2.
The terminal has 24 check-in counters, 3 baggage collection carousels, 12 immigration desk at arrival, 16 immigration desk at departure, 4 security screening points, 4 passenger Boarding Gates and a host of other facilities.
He said Nigeria has affirmed to the world that the aviation industry is safe and secure, increasing the value of the airports.
Sirika said Nigeria needs to attract quality investment through Public Private Partnership so as to make the airports world class, profitable, efficient, comfortable safe, and secure for the travelling public.
He said this will assist Nigeria to develop into a regional air transport hub while remaining committed to ensuring that the industry is safe.
Facilities in Place
The Public Relations Officer of the corporation of FAAN, Mr Alfred Itua said the new international terminal started full operation two weeks ago and all facilities were in place to ensure a good flight experience for passengers, airlines and other stakeholder in the industry.
The new international terminal is now separated from the domestic terminal to cater for all. We have toilets that accommodate the need of the disabled. There are shops here that are yet to be taken; we are expecting more airlines to key into the project
He said the domestic terminal has also been moved from the tent to a terminal that is more spacious, colourful and convenient.
Source: Voice of Nigeria