The planned concession of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) in Lagos by the federal government may have hit dead end, even though temporarily as the aviation unions have accused Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operator of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Two (MMA2), Lagos, of owing the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) over N2 billion arising from the concession agreement it entered into with the federal government way back in 2007. The unions also issued a 15-day ultimatum to the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, to revert the impending concession of the two airports in the first phase or face strike action, which would paralyze the entire aviation industry in the country.
The leadership of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Pensioners (NUP), at a press conference in Lagos argued that since the commencement of the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) scheme in 2007, the terminal operator has not paid FAAN.
Mr. Olayinka Abioye, NUATE General Secretary who spoke on behalf of all the unions at the venue of the conference said BASL has accrued a debt of over N2 billion comprising of various fees for services rendered to it by the FAAN. The breakdown of the debts owed by BASL according to him include, Aviation Security, N1.2bn; Management Fees, N331m; Fire and Safety, N131.2m; Marshaling Service, N2.1m; Electricity, N439m; Rent and Conference, N87.8m; and Hotel Fees, N116.9m.
He threatened, “Until matters such as this are resolved, aviation unions shall not rest on their oars and allow these shenanigans to continue. If we really and genuinely desire a business model that can fit our expectations, we should think of other models, such as the Green Field model, which empowers new investors with deals on fresh ventures, including construction of new runways, terminal buildings and so forth to be operated for a specified period of time before it is handed over to the government, or the corporatization model.” The unions also charged the government to disband the Transaction Advisors (TA) it set up to midwife the concession of the airport in the next 15 days or face total grounding of the aviation industry.