Analysts in the aviation industry have criticized the need for the construction of a second runway at Abuja airport.
The Punch reported that the recent request by the National Assembly Joint Committee on Aviation has reignited the discussion among aviation stakeholders. for the construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja has been the subject of a protracted dispute.
According to the legislators, adding a second runway to the airport will solve the problem of having to shut down the current one for hours whenever the President uses the facility or whenever there is a mishap or accident.
However, interested parties contend that the current runway is significantly underutilized despite intentions to construct a second one.
They also noted that the aviation industry has more urgent problems to deal with, such as lack of infrastructure, outmoded facilities, poor management techniques, and a lack of policy execution. They insist that the country should not be prioritizing the construction of a second runway as a result.
Some aviation analysts asserted that the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport’s existing runway was not being fully utilized because the airport only handles less than 30% of the nation’s 15 million annual passenger flow.
These analysts argued there was no need for a second runway in the country’s airports. According to them, if other issues like poor management and inadequate infrastructure are not addressed, building a new runway may not necessarily be a solution to the underutilization problem.
An aviation expert who preferred to stay anonymous said: “To evaluate the true need for a new runway, a comprehensive feasibility study should be conducted, taking into account variables including anticipated passenger volume, aircraft types and sizes, operational requirements, environmental impact, and cost-effectiveness.
“The effective and secure functioning of the airport should be prioritized while deciding whether to build a new runway.”
According to Assistant Secretary of the Aviation Round Table, Olumide Ohunayo, “Those who have a single runway and more flights, like Stansted Airport in London, have been able to maintain the runway over the years. We are arguing that if you already have one runway and can’t maintain it, how will you maintain a second runway?
“Funding is another issue, the country is in large debt so let us manage what we have,” he said.
Another expert gave his two cents by saying: “There is usually one emergency at a time, so two runways are not needed for an emergency. That is, if a runway is disabled, it is expected that it will only be for a short time. The real issue remains capacity, not an emergency. Every airport has an alternative a few minutes away.”
Experts have also noted that the Federal Government’s over N1 billion investment in airport remodeling over the past ten years did not have a significant impact on the country as a whole.