Aviation agencies offices, others to give way for planned aerotropolis for Lagos airport

  • New rail system to link terminal for Lagos airport city underway
  • Airlines’ concern over Nigeria Air unfounded-Minister


As part of the Ministry of Aviation’s road map for the aviation industry and particularly for Lagos, the office spaces occupied by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) are to be demolished to give room to the ambition of turning the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos to an aerotropolis.

The ramshackle former headquarters of FAAN in Lagos before all the agencies were relocated to Abuja a few years ago had long been a subject of demolition as the few workers still left in Lagos may be relocated until the completion of offices, hotels, cinemas, spars and all other facilities that would turn the airport into a business city.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika at the Aviation Breakfast Meeting Thursday last week, with the theme, “Aviation in Nigeria: What Next? held at the Eko Hotels organized by Phillips Consulting Limited (PSL) said the airport city in Lagos had been designed to link the old airport with the new airport by rail and also to develop all the areas where FAAN, NAMA, and others have those structures to completely give them out and to put a private sector initiative there for offices, hotels, cinemas, spars among others.

He noted that in spite of the roadmap, all the plans had been developed, all the consultancy services given and all the works had been done and given to the private sector and for entrepreneurs in the aviation industry that are interested.

The aerotropolis concept came about as airports have evolved as drivers of the business location and urban development in the 21st century in the same way as highways did in the 20th century.

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It encompasses aviation-dependent businesses and the commercial services that support them and the multitude of air travelers who pass through the airport annually.

Responding to the criticisms that trailed the unveiling of Ethiopian Airlines as a strategic partner in the soon-to-be national carrier, the Minister said the Federal Government decided to set up a private sector-led airline that can be called an airline that is not going to be a one-man airline and because of the yawning gaps suffered in the airline business.

His words, “There is nothing wrong in one man’s business if it is done very well, what matters is to do it very well. We said we wanted to achieve a private sector-driven airline with the government owning five percent or less. When the airline starts, the five percent shares would be sold to the private sector. In December 2016, we began the process. We appointed a transaction adviser. Everywhere I went they called me Mr. National carrier because they believed it would never happen. It is something that would stand the test of time.”



Explaining further the process that birthed Nigeria Air, the Minister said, “We called for bids and all that, we went through the process with ICRC and they developed a business case. This business was uploaded to the website of ICRC and it is there for people to access. For those that bothered to ask, we have given them. We distributed them at many conferences and published the document and there is a freedom of information Act that we expected them to have gone to if they found issues with it and to give them the information that they want. All information concerning it, they can always get it. That business case said there should be a Nigerian company christened Nigeria Air known to Nigerian law. It is not a case of Virgin Nigeria like few people are insinuating.”

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“ I have spoken in Lagos, spoken in Abuja, I have spoken in London, spoken everywhere. We had held six stakeholders’ conferences aside from zoom meetings aside from meeting with the Airline Operators of Nigeria which had happened more than 20 times. In these meetings, we dwelt on the roadmap and national carrier. They asked all the questions and we answered them.

“During this process, I as a person appealed to them including Air Peace, Azman, and the rest of them, and said the government is establishing a national carrier, a Nigerian company that they should please come on board to participate, come and own part of it. Only last week, one of them claimed that the invitation was informal. I told him that, I met you, and spoke with you. Even the market woman knows about the plan to set up the airline”

“I told him that the advertisement we did in the papers meant what? I invited them but they were not interested. We invited strategic equity partners to come with all it has with their consortium to own 49 percent of the venture. There is also 46 percent for Nigerian entrepreneurs whether airlines or individuals. I said the government would retain five percent.

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“For people who are asking, the business case says three aircraft; $350 million is 100% of the airline for a start. We went through the process. The process is not our process. We went through the process of ICRC. The legal team for this airline is the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Office of the National Budget and Planning, ICRC, the Aviation Ministry, and the rest of them. They formed a team to deliver the airline”.

Sirika noted that the Outline Business Case (OBC) for the airline is in circulation for whoever wants to peruse it, adding that the local airlines have nothing to be worried about concerning competition with the new carrier.

An Aerotropolis

“Their concern is that if this airline is established, there would be a price war, they will under-price everybody, drive away all of them, and jerk up the price six months along the line and remain the only player. Well, I think this is laughable and this is not the case. The operators also know so because our laws provided that any fare increase or decrease must be in consultation with stakeholders which is the airline and everybody else, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the NCAA won’t allow that to happen. To tinker with the price of tickets, it has to be with the stakeholders, airlines, and the rest of them including the NCAA”, he added.

Wole Shadare