Osubi Airport to reopen in two weeks
Delta State government has signed off the Asaba Airport facility to concessionaires in a deal that will earn the state, at least, N100 million in concession fee yearly.
The strategic move to further develop the airport and make it run profitably (the first of such concession in the country), will also earn the state 2.5 per cent yearly revenue earnings over the next 30 years that the concession agreement would run.
In a related development, the Osubi Airport in Warri, Delta State, is scheduled to reopen in the next two weeks after months of closure.
At the agreement signing ceremony between Delta State government and Asaba Airport Company Limited in Asaba on Tuesday, the State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, said the concession was motivated by the desire to have the critical facility developed into a full international air travel destination and profit-oriented asset for the host state.
“Considering the cost alone, no state government can run an airport the way it should function to bring the maximum benefit to the people. So, we have decided to follow this route. I want the Delta people to know that this concession and the signing ceremony with the concessionaires today are in the best interest of the Delta people, and I hope that other States with state-owned airports will follow suit,” Okowa said.
The previous administration built the facility and opened operations in 2008. It was, however, in 2015 downgraded by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) over dilapidated infrastructure and poor maintenance culture.
Okowa, on the assumption of office, embarked on the facility upgrade, including the construction of a new runway, Instrument landing system and field lighting to have the airport return to 24-hour operations in 2019.
The governor, yesterday, said while the upgrading was in progress, the State had since 2015, begun the transparent processes to bring in the private sector to take up the facility and transform it into a regional hub. He said following a rigorous bidding process, the state settled for a consortium of concessionaire operators/ investors “with the technical and financial capabilities to redevelop, finance, design, operate, maintain and manage the Asaba International Airport for the benefit of Deltans”.
Okowa added that following his engagement with aviation agencies at Osubi Airport, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had agreed to reopen the facility to flight operations. Though a private facility, he pledged to support the airport in the area of COVID-19 protocol for early resumption.
The master concessionaire and sub-concessionaire model adopted for Asaba Airport produced FIDC-Menzies Consortium as the major shareholder, with technical partners like Air Peace airline as the anchor airline and MRO operator; while Multifreight Cargo and Logistics will manage the cargo aspect Others are Arbico Construction Company to develop the Business Park, Hotel and Convention Centre; Rainoil Limited and Cybernetics Limited to develop tank farm and aviation fuel supply, and Quorum Aviation Limited to develop and manage the private jet and helicopter terminal.
The concessionaires have the mandate to invest N28 billion in the mandatory capital project the next three years and run the Asaba International Airport for an initial 30 years period, having paid the State government N1 billion as an upfront fee.
Managing Director of Asaba Airport Limited, Adebisi Adebutu, said the goal of the concession was to reposition the airport to be the best in West Africa. Adebutu said the immediate work would be to modernise the airport through the terminal upgrade and laying of optic fibre for internet services.
The long-term project would be to build a cargo facility, retail and leisure centres, airport hotel and the creation of an airport city.
Director-General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Prof. Sani Mashi, commended the initiative, describing it as the best way to make such high-capital ventures run optimally and profitably. Mashi, who spoke on behalf of other aviation agencies, pledged to support the concessionaires as the airport widens operations and increases revenue.