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Airport concessioning: Aviation Industry short staffed – Minister

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Abiola Seun

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika on Tuesday said the International Civil Aviation Organisations (ICAO), findings have said the nation’s aviation sector is currently short staff hence, the government cannot downsize anymore.

Sirika, speaking at a virtual meeting against the backdrop of fear expressed by staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), that concessioning of the airports would lead to job loss, assured FAAN’s staff that concessioning would rather create new jobs.

Recall that the proposed concession of the four major airports in the country for over five years has generated heated debates and fear of job loss among stakeholders, especially the unions leading to series of protests.

But, allaying fear of job loss, the Minister said some airports were short of staff and as such more hands would be engaged, adding that as more airports were being taken over by government, staff will be needed to run them.

The Minister said, “Unions fear for jobs but i keep saying they will not lose their jobs because number one, we currently, by the findings of ICAO, we are understaffed in so many areas and we need to recruit people  so we need all hands to manage our airports,” he assured the workers.

“Secondly, we have now increased the number of airports within our care, we are taking over Gombe, Bauchi,  Dutse, Kebbi, Osubi and many other airports and we need helping hands, we need new people to manage the airport that being the case we look at what is the staff strength and how do we employ more people,” he assured the workers.

Sirika further explained that the airports were not for concession but the terminal buildings only, adding that, the concessionaires would provide the investments required to upgrade the existing and take over the new terminals and maintain them over a period of time to be determined based on financial assessment of each transaction.

“The concessionaires will sign service level agreements with FAAN and NAMA to ensure that airport operates efficiently, the service level agreement will cover the Runway, Taxiway, Security and Air Traffic Management.”

Speaking further, the Minister said, existing concessions within the terminals would be inherited by the concessionaires and would be allowed to run its course before any review.
He also disclosed that only the terminal buildings of the four major international airports in the country are to be concessioned and the majority of its revenue will be derived from Non-Aeronautical sources.

The Minister emphasized that no state governments would be allowed to participate in the concession process except the private sector with the financial wherewithal to handle the concession.

He said, ”What I can say emphatically, is that no state government will be allowed to participate to get this concession. The argument is we are taking this concession from Federal Government to private sector so, we cannot give from one government to another government, in fact to a lesser government which is a sub national, this will not happen but any private sector or any private entity with proven record that is able to demonstrate that will be allowed to participate and the best will emerge,” he said.

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