18th March, 2013
The new structure named Murtala Muhammed Domestic Terminal 1, MMDT1 which was built to replace the General Aviation Terminal, GAT at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, remains a subject of controversy.
The airline that is taking full advantage of the terminal is Arik. To underline its dominance, almost all the counters situated in the terminal bear the Arik Logo, giving the clear impression that Chanchangi, Med-view, IRS and Overland airlines that boast a counter each are merely fringe operators. However, Arik’s very established presence at the domestic terminal is a big headache for Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd, operators of MMA2. The company has been complaining about losing enormous sums to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, which is in charge of the new terminal. Bi-Courtney is miffed that revenues that should accrue to the company if Arik was a tenant at MMA2, goes into FAAN’s coffers. Although, Arik initially got a space at the MMA2, the airline has refused to operate from there.
Steve Omolale Ajulo, the Public Relations Officer of Bi-Courtney Aviation Services laments the company’s loses on a daily basis. With Arik averaging over 30 flight operations everyday, Bi-Courtney’s revenue could have received a significant boost, if only the airline moves its operations to the MMA2 in line with court orders. Despite the fact that the courts have granted injunctions six times against FAAN and the Federal Government to allow Bi-Courtney be in charge of all domestic operations with the last judgment given in October 2012 still subsisting, FAAN remains in serious competition with Bi-Courtney, emphasized by the building of the new domestic terminal. Meanwhile, in actual terms, Bi-Courtney is a concessionaire to FAAN.
To worsen matters, for Bi-Courtney, activities at the MMA2 in terms of flight operations are not at a peak level, deepening the worries of Bi-Courtney.
On Thursday 7 March, 2013, P.M.NEWS Business week observed that between 7.am till about 7p.m.,w the MMA2 witnessed only 32 departures and 23 arrivals, it attracts the highest number of passengers. At the domestic Terminal 1, the airline now has separate counters with several other counters where customers usually cluster for flight bookings.
However, the other airlines also present in the new Domestic Terminal such as Med-views, Chanchangi and IRS are not really doing brisk business. None of them is having it as good as Arik. According to a Chanchangi official, the presence of the airlines at the new terminal also translates to an additional burden through double rent payments since the airlines also pay to be at the MMA2.
In an attempt to draw more airlines into the Domestic Terminal, FAAN has decided to reduce its rates, putting Bi-Courtney at a disadvantage.
Underutilization of the MMA2 remains the bane of Bi-Courtney’s financial well-being considering the huge amount expended on the structure (over $200 million). Although Aero, IRS, First Nation, Med-views, Dana and Chanchangi airlines operate from there, First Nation and Chanchangi have not been consistent.
While First Nation blames its temporary suspension on logistic reasons, Chanchangi has reduced its operations to only Kaduna\Abuja from Lagos. IRS has also put a hold on flying the Yola route for now. While staff of First Nation airline still occupy the counter at the MMA2, their service to customers is only to assist in booking them on flights by other operators since the airline is yet to resume operations. Dana, which recently got back into the skies, is struggling to regain the trust of hitherto loyal customers, courtesy of last year’s disastrous crash.