NIGERIAN airports certification will reduce insurance premiums, attract more foreign carriers into the country and lower charges for domestic operators, Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said.
Besides, insurance premiums and charges reduction, certification of airports, Sirika said, have put Nigeria on the global safety chart, with the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, to be published in the International Civil Aviation Organisation ( ICAO) Aeronautical Information Report (AIR).
The aeronautical information report is a list of certified aerodromes endorsed by ICAO.
Speaking to The Nation last week, in an interview in Abuja , Sirika said Lagos Airport certification would make it attract global bidders under a concession arrangement.
Apart from the Lagos Airport, which was certified by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA) last week, Sirika said airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna and Enugu will be next following the parameters established by ICAO for their certification.
According to Sirika, other airports will also undergo audit to prepare them for certification in line with the Abuja Safety Declaration by African leaders in 2003.
African Ministers of Aviation and Transportation, at a safety conference in 2003, set 2015 as the deadline for African countries to certify their airports.
The Minister said though 2015 was set as deadline for all African countries to certify their airports, Nigeria was ahead of many countries yet to get their airports ready for the global safety audit.
He said team work was involved in getting the Lagos Airport certified as the government had to engage international organisations, including ICAO, and Airports Council International (ACI) to provide technical support and capacity development to enable Nigeria scale the hurdle.
Sirika said Nigeria would build on the momentum achieved with the certification of Lagos Airport to prepare other airports to attain the requirements spelt out in ICAO Annex 14.
He said the annex required that Nigerian airports must meet minimum safety and security standards.
Sirika said:”Certification of airports is good for Nigeria. Not just, for the prestige it gives to the country, but it is an endorsement that the Lagos Airport is safety and security compliant in line with ICAO regulations.
“ It will reduce insurance premium paid by the airport authority and other service providers, including airlines, it will reduce charges and could even bring about lower air fares.
“ As government is preparing airports for concession; their certification will shore up the value. Now the world will know that flights in and around Nigeria are safe and secure and that will increase the value of our airports and shore up the value of our infrastructure, especially as we are geared towards concessioning.”
Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Saleh Dunoma, who spoke in an interview, said the certification of Lagos Airport was achieved because of the concerted efforts of aviation agencies, which worked as a team to close the gaps identified during the audit.
Dunoma said though the certificate handed to FAAN by Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the Lagos Airport is for three years, the authorised would ensure that it upholds the safety, operational and technical standards to avoid either the cancellation, revocation and suspension of the certification.
Dunoma said:”We are very excited to hand over the document conveying certification of Lagos Airport to the Minister in Abuja, we are confident that will will sustain the tempo to get other airports certified.
“Aerodrome certification is a primary requirement by ICAO . We are happy that Lagos Airport has met the standardisation, uniformity and harmonisation of facilities as spelt out by the global regulator. This is enough indication that our drive to get Nigerian airports certified is yielding results.”
He said with the certification of Lagos Airport, FAAN can now concentrate on Abuja airport. Dunoma said: “From Lagos will now move to certify other international airports. FAAN is determined to maintain and surpass the aerodrome certification. It was a concerted effort with all our sister agencies as well as the Airports Council International (ACI) and the ICAO regional office.
“ We are appreciative of their support and the support of the Minister, who stood steadfast and created the enabling environment for this to happen,”he said.
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