Through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the federal government has plans to certify the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. The plans come after the validation of its safety standard by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
In the meantime, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigerian (FAAN) has met all the conditions for the certification.
Nigeria has the highest passenger traffic in West and Central Africa. The country ought to operate the hub of the sub-regions but instead the Katoka International Airport, Accra is drawing the aircraft and passenger traffic because of the state of Nigeria’s airports.
Nonetheless, after the certification more international carriers will start operating to Nigeria, as they have already indicated interest to come to the country after the certification. However, with the recognition, international aviation agencies intend to upgrade the airport and allow more aircraft to fly into the country.
According to Captain Muhtar Usman, the Director General of NCAA, the airport certification will give the international aviation community the confidence to operate to the airport.
“The certification of the airport is based on safety and it is required by ICAO to give the required confidence to international airline operators coming in that given standards have been met. That is not to say that what we have now is unsafe, because we have been operating,” said Captain Muhtar Usman.
“The airports as they are now are safe and they will be even safer, if we bring it in line with standards and recommended practices- because ICAO wants to bring in uniformity as fueled by Standard and recommended practices. We have been operating safely, we want everybody to be on the same page, that is why this certification has to be done in line with ICAO standards,” added the Director General.
Additionally, the federal government is facilitating the plan by private investors to build Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility and fuel depot very close to the airport to avoid the languid and rigorous movement of oil tankers from the Apapa depots to the airport.
Infact, the certification entails meeting stringent conditions and such conditions are expected attract more credibility to the airport and improve its profile.
Operations will be done according to the facilities standards and must function efficiently and the infrastructure must be safe for flight landing and take-off at any time. That is why the facility must adhere to given high international standards. When these standards are attained “the airport will attract more flights and more airlines will come through. The country’s economy will be boosted through high revenue generation. Also more jobs will be created for the benefit of the Nigerians.
However, some of Chinese airlines are waiting for the certification of the airport and the recognition that ought to be given to the airport by ICAO has not been given because the airport has not been certified.
The International Air Transport Association
Although ICAO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have acknowledged that the Lagos airport drives the highest traffic in West Africa, but it has not been recognised as a hub because it has not been certified.
It is noted that, no airport in the West and Central Africa has been certified by the international aviation body. Thus, when MMIA is certified it will open the door for the certification of other airports in the sub-region that has met the given standards.