Airports need innovation to survive, says ex FAAN MD

 A former Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun said airport operators, airlines, and other service providers must work in a symbiotic relationship to achieve a common goal of viability.

 Aisuebeogun in his presentation titled: Viability of Airport in Nigeria– why airlines fail at the CHINET Aviation and Cargo conference also proposed improved Infrastructure, modernization, and innovation which he described as part of airport business intelligence which airports and businesses need to adapt to these changing times or suffer entropy.

According to him, an airport cannot survive on its own without airlines and vice versa if there is no airport activity but said the airport plays a greater role as they need to be innovative and  Information Communication and Technology (ICT) driven to be.

He explained,” The viability of an airport is the function of the viability of an airline because there is inter-dependency and inter-relationship between the two elements. Beyond that one of the things I try to preach is this:  every business has to be innovative to survive, if you fail to be innovative, you will entropy, gradual death.

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“Interrelationship and interdependency is an ecological system theory. It states that your survival is a function of every other thing. No one person can operate in isolation, the airport is just real estate, a building. If there is no airline activity the airport cannot survive. The airline itself cannot survive if there is no airport activity.”


Richard Aisuebeogun

According to t him, the airport now has a greater role to play for its viability, one of which is that it has to be innovative, meaning that the airport has to be a smart airport.

“We have to migrate to being a smart airport in other words we have to be IT-driven, the entire airport system must be under Airport Operations Management Systems (AOMS) which is an ICT management system, the application of such system drives the airport. If you look at any business in the world, any product in the world, they’ve become so innovative that those who have failed to be innovative have died out. The airport cannot be left behind; the airport has to be smart.

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“If you have the right infrastructure with regards AOMS, navigation systems to enable aircraft to land in zero visibility weather these are some things that make an airport viable. Viability is not about money, it’s about infrastructure, modernization, the innovation that is what I am proposing now and is what we call airport business intelligence.

According to him, other factors that affect airport viability area geographical location, relation with hub airports, infrastructure:  which includes navigation, maintenance, flight operation (fuel depot), ground handling, cargo.

Other factors that also affect viability are population density of the locale, tourism potential of the location, passenger incentives, investment opportunity, funding, airline operators, aviation handling capacity among others.

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Aiseubeogun also said the system needs to be moved back to regional development stressing that this helps the regional economics.


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“We look at four or five airports in a region, what are the economic activities? What are the economic potentials in that region? It is when we have economic activities that airports can become more viable, so you have activities in and out of that environment. Let’s take that Ekiti has mining activities, for example,  if that mining activity is properly developed you can be sure that  Ibadan, Akure airports will become more viable because you now have a flow of traffic because of that economic activity that was what the national economic regional plans of the 60s and 70s focused on,” he proposed.

Wole Shadare