Nigerian Airports - Lessons from Singapore

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Friday, September 25, 2020 12:45 PM / By FDC Ltd / Header Image Credit: Guardian NG

 

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Airports have become fully integrated in the economic and social strata of various countries. It plays an important part in air transport system and is very significant to increasing the quality of life of regional and local communities, directly participating in wealth creation.

 

Global & domestic aviation industry in distress

This year, the global aviation sector could contract by approximately 55% and load factor by 41%. This is the consequence of worldwide lockdowns and restrictions on domestic and international air travel. The entire sector could lose over $84bn in 2020 with revenues falling by over 50% compared to 2019. Profit levels could also contract by 20.1%.

 

Of all the transportation services in Nigeria, air transport took the biggest hit at this time of the pandemic. It contracted 57.38% in Q2'2020 from 5.68% in Q1'2020. Domestic and international flights have now resumed which points to a slow recovery in the sector. However, passenger traffic could still be low as individuals are pessimistic about contracting the virus and revenues will remain thin compared to the pre-COVID levels. One thing is certain - things will not remain the same.

 

Nigerian airports are still sub-optimal

Nigerian airports are still not up to global standards. In addition, when compared to peer countries like South Africa and Ghana, it is evident that the country still has a long way to go in terms of airport infrastructure. There are still a number of persisting challenges for Nigerian airports ranging from poor management and administration, to maintenance, structural and regulatory bottlenecks to mention a few. A recent survey revealed that the conduct of some officers (immigration and customs) and careless handling of luggage are top pain points of travelling through Nigerian airports. In addition, travelers have complained over time that the Nigerian airport experience does not measure up to acceptable global standards.

 

The way forward

 

The Singapore model

In the past 40 years, the Changi airport has developed and expanded to become the best airport in the world. Through consistency and strict compliance to development plans, the airport has expanded from one to five terminals. In addition, there has been adequate provision of other vital support facilities like aircraft engineering support, in-flight catering services, fire stations and utilities. Furthermore, other sensitive divisions like security and transport and customer services have remained top priority at the airport. The aesthetics of the airport (travel and leisure theme), presence of cinemas, restaurants and shopping complexes has not only increased passenger traffic but also revenue. In 2019, passenger traffic was over 68 million people. Travelers often commend the airport experience and ease of navigating the airport.

 

Airport concessioning has also contributed immensely to the efficient organization of the airport. The effective management practices by the Public Works Department of the Changi Airport Development Division supported the fast growth and development of the airport. Changi Airport was corporatized and came under a new company, Changi Airport Group, when the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), which had managed the airport for 25 years, was restructured into two separate entities – Changi Airport Group, which oversaw airport operations, and the restructured CAAS, which was involved in regulatory issues.

 

Lessons for Nigeria

  • There is need for increased investment towards airport infrastructure as it will help reduce average costs and increase revenue. For example an expansion of airport parking spaces could increase income generated from parking tickets.
  • Public-private partnership will attract more investment. It will also help in terms of management, income generation and accountability. The presence of private ownership will intensify the need to boost revenue and profit.
  • Airport aesthetics could also be a tourist attraction and this could increase passenger traffic and in turn revenue.
  • Effective implementation of development plans cannot be over-emphasized.

 

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