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IATA warns Nigeria about privatizing airports

Nigeria has been warned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) about their plans to privatize their airports and was told to exercise restraint.

IATA emphasized that Nigeria must protect its national assets with “ironclad regulation” that puts national interest first before anything else.

IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac made the statements during his remarks at the IATA Global Media Day in Switzerland.

De Juniac said that Air Traffic Management (ATM) must be taken into account, should Nigeria or other countries push forward with the endeavor. He also warned about nations learning from the mistakes of others with regards to privatizing airports.

“Getting these right is difficult to do. To be blunt, we have not seen an airport privatization that has fully lived up to expectations. Our members (airlines) are very frustrated. Airport privatization is an issue that needs careful attention and urgent thinking. It will be a main focus for IATA in the coming years,” said de Juniac.

The Federal Government, through Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, had indicated that they had finalized plans to concession airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano.

The plan is to make these airports efficient and income generating especially with the scarcity of funds in other sectors of the economy.

Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had already established a process for the concession by forming a committee to facilitate the process.

Although the proposal has elicited protests from the sector’s workers’ unions who pledged to fight the concession of airports, experts claim that records show governments had made mistakes by putting their hands into so many businesses that usually are handled by individuals.

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