Experts differ on operating standards at airports

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There have been mixed opinions among stakeholders in the country’s aviation industry, following the decision by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to halt the extension of flight operations to airports in the sunrise and sunset across the country.

The FAAN in conjunction with the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) recently adopted a new operating standards policy by halting the extension of flight operations at sunrise and sunset airports Across the country.

Sunset airports refer to airfields without landing facilities. This means that airlines can only operate between 7:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

However, the five main airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Kano, can operate 24 hours a day from sunrise to sunset.

Shortly after FAAN Director General Captain Rabiu Yadudu’s statement, a cross-section of pilots and engineers applauded the decision, saying that the decision to stop the flight extension request to airlines by directions of FAAN and NAMA was a step in the right direction. direction

Stakeholders, under the auspices of the National Association of Pilots and Aircraft Engineers (NAAPE), stressed that since the decision was based on safety and security, the decision could not be compromised.

On the other hand, participants in the recent seminar on airports at sunset organized by the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents argued that the notion of “airports at sunset” or hours of Limited exploitation (of day) is a self-limiting factor that is retrograde and a challenge that should be taken up by a modern state.

According to them, the phenomenon is a major disruptor to the economies of airline operations and the use of aviation assets.

Self-imposed throttling has been identified as one of the major scourges of gross aircraft underutilization, estimated to cost each aircraft three hours of operation per day and at least N4.3 billion in unearned revenue per year (per equipment).

Untapped revenue, they observed, increases in an airline with five or more aircraft and the reason why local airlines struggle to survive unlike their counterparts in Europe, North America and Asia.

Stakeholders therefore advised that the Sunset airport phenomenon and the restriction of opening hours should now be treated as an aberration and a problem to be solved, given their disastrous consequences on airlines and the economy in general.

Further explaining why they are in favor of stopping the extension of flights, NAAPE President, Engr Abednego Galadima, who spoke on behalf of the professionals, called on industry players, especially air operators , to strictly respect their schedules to avoid a crisis in their operations, stressing that once this rule is respected, the interruption of service would be avoided.

He said: “If the intent is based on the safety and security of airlines and people, that is not out of place. I don’t think the intention is to mislead the airlines.

“I will only advise airlines to ensure that they adhere strictly to their schedules instead of seeking an extension through FAAN and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA). As you know, security and safety are our top priority in the industry and cannot be compromised.”

FAAN Director General Captain Rabiu Yadudu earlier announced the new flight regime, saying the move was taken for safety and security reasons.

Yadudu who informed that FAAN had met with sister agency, NAMA) and both decided to adopt the new policy.

Speaking at a forum hosted by NIGAV recently, Yadudu pointed out that approvals are available for necessary cases but airlines must now work within their limits as no extension approvals will be granted willy-nilly. .

The move, according to Yadudu, is a safety measure and may eventually check airlines that have a standard operating procedure for delaying their flights, but he however insisted that the policy that FAAN has cobbled together does not is not absolute and would make concessions for extreme situations.

“We have stopped granting extensions of operation to sunrise and sunset airports across the country. It was actually safety and security considerations that prompted us to make this particular decision. We have already started and we have met the NAMA team and we agree that there is no turning back.

Regarding requirements that could require airlines to operate to sunrise and sunset airports beyond the scheduled period, he said:

“We are not planning a safety and security policy based on such permutations. When something like this happens, then we know how to cross the bridge when we get there; but right now we are working normally and operations are normal, we need to plan our operations to keep them standard. If you consider such things, you won’t get any standard operating procedures (SOPs) anywhere. It remains as it is. »

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