Confusion is building up in the air transport industry as the Federal Government is consolidating efforts to fix abandoned airside infrastructure in the strategic sector.
The move by the government to address gaps in deficit air navigation and airport facilities is, however, not going down well with the potential users of such equipment.
Indigenous operators under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have kicked over the modalities for the 90-day closure of the Runway 18 Left of the Lagos Airport, accusing the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) of not carrying its members along on the procedure of operations before it shut the facility on July 8, this year.
Before repairs of the runway commenced last week, the facility had been abandoned for 14 years for reasons bordering on approval and procurement challenges by the supervising Federal Ministry of Aviation.
The runway was last renovated in 2008, but the airfield lighting component was not incorporated. But the contractors rolled out their equipment last week to carry out major repairs in the facility, which when completed, would reduce cost of operations for local carriers.
FAAN’s Managing Director, Captain Rabiu Yadudu, attributed the delay to approval processes.Worried over the runway closure, AON in a letter to FAAN berated the authority for closing the runway of the Lagos Airport without considering the huge cost implications on affected airlines.
The AON alleged that since the runway was shut, works on the installation of air field lightning had not commenced.
Accusing FAAN of being insensitive to their plight, AON called for a review of the closure and engagement with affected operators on the procedure that would reduce the cost impact on local carriers.
The operators said the closure adds between 10 and 15 per cent to the cost of fuel per sector into and out of the Lagos Airport.This burden is unsustainable for a three-month period for airlines.
The letter reads: ”The runway has been closed for one week now, with no evidence of any work going on.”
FAAN, has, however, clarified the scope of work on Runway 18 Left of the Lagos Airport.
The authority said it has commenced work on the project with mobilisation of equipment since July 8.
Its spokesperson, Mrs Faithful Hope-Ivbaze, said the workers resumed on July 9.
She said allegations by AON that work misrepresented the situation.
The airport manager said marking of the runway centreline light commenced and 240m marking from the threshold 18L was done.
She said the digging of cable trenches from the switch room 18L to approach commenced the same day.
FAAN further explained that on July 10, marking of the touchdown zone light and runway centreline light continued and up to 410m from 18L was done and digging of cable trenches continued.
The Airport manager said on July 11 and 12, digging of cable trenches and marking of centreline and touchdown light continued with marking of the TDZ and RWY centreline light progressed to 840m on July 13.
She said cutting of links to the transformer pit commenced with fabrication of cable rollers.
In a statement, she said: “On the 14/7/22, marking of TDZ light completed while that of Runway centreline light continued. Digging of cable trenches completed at Approach area and continues from there to C1 holding position Cutting of the pavement for insertion of fittings commenced.
“On the July 15, FAAN continued the marking of runway centreline, digging of cable trenches at 18L and 36R and cutting of pavement for the inset fittings continued and equally said marking of runway Centreline was completed same date.
“Also that digging of cable trenches at approach 18L and from the left side of the Runway and taxiway C completed while cutting of pavement for the inset fittings continued.’’
FAAN also said fixing of fittings on the pavement with the elevated fittings 30m prior to the threshold had commenced.
The airports authority, however, explained that last week’s heavy downpour rain affected the progress but stressed that so far, work is progressing well.
“As of July 18, FAAN is digging cable trenches while installation of the threshold 18L has commenced with cutting and excavation of the secondary cable trench and fixing of fittings.
“Marking of the taxiway Centreline, stop-bars and No Entry lights on taxiway C has commenced and is almost completed,” it added.