The Head of Operations, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) and operators of Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal Two (MM2), Mr. Mobolaji Salu, said yesterday that the terminal had the capacity to process over four million passengers annually but was only processing about two million. He also announced that Arik Airlines presently managed by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) though a Receivership arrangement has begun charter services at MM2.
Salu, who spoke to journalists during a tour of the facility, said the terminal was also ready to begin regional operations, having put in place the necessary facilities that met internationals standards, but had not been granted permission by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). The facilities, he stated, included self-check-in counters, which had helped to speed up passenger processing time among others.
According to him, “The MMA2 is designed to process four million passengers per annum and can be expanded, but we are currently doing only two million, which means the terminal is 50 per cent underutilised. We have everything ready for regional flights, because the terminal was designed for both domestic and regional flights; with offices and counters for all the necessary security agents, including an integration with the Nigeria Immigration Service system at the international airport.”
Also speaking, the Managing Director, BASL, Capt. Jari Williams, however, added that the NCAA had granted the company approval to commence regional operations twice and had also cancelled the approval on both occasions. He said the NCAA was being insincere with the excuse that domestic and regional flights could not be processed from the same terminal.
He disclosed, “Abuja and Port Harcourt airports both process regional and domestic flights from the same terminal. Aviation is dynamic; it is all about integration. If we are going to move ahead with the dynamics of aviation, as it is all over the world, we need to look ahead. We are losing 50 per cent of our revenue due to the underutilisation of the terminal, because even the inactive areas are still regularly maintained.”
Looking at the matter from the legal perspective however, Legal Adviser, BASL, Mr. Tola Oshobi, SAN, said the bone of contention between the company and the Federal Government was that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had refused to obey the exclusivity clause in the concession agreement.
He said, “At every point in time, we have never had exclusivity and over 50 per cent of domestic passengers are processed outside this terminal,” Oshobi said the company was open to an amicable settlement with the government having gone through the legal processes to fight for its right. BASL explaining the commencement of Arik’s charter services from MM2 was due to customer demand. They disclosed the Arik commenced the service about one month ago because Nigerians were demanding for it.