Ahead of the September 5 re-opening of airspace for international flights, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Tuesday met with the management team of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Discussions at the meeting focused partly on actionable steps being put in place at Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) by the federal and state governments to give travellers comfort and better experience when the facility is re-opened for air traffic.
FAAN team, led by its Managing Director, Rabiu Yadudu, harped on the need for state government’s interventions to ensure seamless operations at Lagos airport, which contributes 70 per cent of FAAN’s total revenue.
Yadudu used the opportunity to thank the state government for the construction of the airport road from Oshodi, noting that the intervention had strengthened the partnership between Lagos State Government and FAAN.
The managing director, however, pleaded with Sanwo-Olu to intervene in ensuring smooth safety compliance and provision of services as the airport prepared to re-open for commercial activities.
Other requests made by FAAN included: provision of BRT buses to commute passengers from car park to departure and arrival halls, expansion of strategic airport roads, and halting of encroachment on the airport land around Ajao Estate and Shasha, among others.
Responding, Sanwo-Olu said his administration has been working round the clock with the Federal Government to put in place safety protocols at the airport and drive compliance. The effort, he said, would be followed by a joint assessment of the airport facility with FAAN and other agencies.
The governor used the occasion to explain the development activities embarked on by the state government to ensure travellers have better experience, while passing through the airport, disclosing that the state had already started the construction of a world-class bus terminal close to the airport.
The bus terminal, Sanwo-Olu said, would serve as holding station for international passengers who would not be driving into the airport. He added that the bus station would be complemented with rail infrastructure to shuttle air passengers from the metropolis departure terminals.
According to him, “An airport is a gateway that defines the nation, because it is the first facility to be seen by international travellers. Murtala Mohammed International Airport is an important asset, not only to the Federal Government but also to Lagos State.
“The strategic use of this airport should necessitate that need for us to fully harness the asset and make it a bubbling destination for tourists and businessmen coming into the country.
“As a state government, we are taking complementary efforts to ensure the airport promotes business and is safe for travellers. We have started the construction of a massive bus terminal along the airport road, which will be complemented with a rail project.
“The rail project is part of the Red Line Rail project which will start from Ebute Metta and pass through Oshodi. The right-of-way of this project has been determined and we are hoping the project will start before the end of the year.”
Sanwo-Olu charged FAAN management on remodelling of the airport’s facilities to become a hub of business and tourism. He said some of the facilities installed in the airport at inception were due for modernisation and upgrading.
The governor particularly made a case for the provision of fast free internet connectivity within lounges at the airport, noting that the era of passengers sitting for long without internet access has passed.
He said the functionality of the airport must be fully explored, urging the management to invest in facilities that would drive more passenger traffic to the airport.
“Travellers across the world are looking for destinations where things they enjoy in their comfort zones are provided. When we provide services and infrastructure that will drive traffic to our airport, not only will it triple the revenue generated for the government, it will also improve the status of the airport within the continent,” he said.
The governor promised further engagements with the Aviation Minister on ways to resolve other issues around Lagos airport.