By Kenneth Ehigiator
SOME airlines, banks situated within the new domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, MMA2, Ikeja, Lagos, have threatened to relocate their operations from the facility over increase in rent by the operators, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, for office space from N60 million to between N80 million and N100 million annually.
Already, Access Bank had since April relocated its operations from the terminal, while Guaranty Trust Bank Plc is said to be contemplating to quit as soon as the management secures another office around the terminal.
But Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, in a swift reaction, said it had not increased rent and had no plan to do so.
â€œThe bank cannot at this time meet up with the N80 million annual rent from N60 million and decided to return to the office at NAHCO, pending when another place close to the terminal is got,â€ a source told Vanguard yesterday.
Banks operating in MMA use their office in the terminal as pay/saving points, with ATM machines for both travellers and members of the public.
A source close to Aero Contractors said the airline was already contemplating to relocate to the General Aviation Terminal, GAT, or old terminal of the airport due to the proposed plan to increase the rent paid at MMA2.
The airlineâ€™s Director of Flight Operations, Capt Akin George, confirmed that Aero might move its operations to the old terminal managed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, where the ground rent is much cheaper.
Although staff of Guaranty Bank Plc at the terminal chose to keep sealed lips on the issue, sources close to the unit said the bank could not meet up with increase of the rent it was paying for an office space to N80 million per year, adding that the management had decided to return to the bankâ€™s office at NAHCO, pending when it is able to secure a space in a building close to the terminal.
It was also learnt that Oceanic, which was one of the first banks to move into the terminal, has concluded plans to relocate from the terminal, having secured a space very close to the new terminal.
However, spokesman for Bi-Courtney, Mr. Chukwudum Ofomata, told Vanguard yesterday that his management had not increased rent and would not do so.
According to him, banks are merging their offices because of difficult business environment in the country.
â€œWe have not increased rent. The banks that are moving out are merging their branches because of the financial pressure on them, and also posting their staff to other branches and not relocating the branches that were at MMA2.
â€œIf anybody says we have increased rent, let him show you the letter containing that. We are also in negotiation with several banks that want to operate from the terminal. ETB is also putting finishing touches to their space in preparation to start operations,â€ Ofomata said.
On Aero contractors, he said the airline had indicated its plans to move out of the terminal but not over rent and that the company was negotiating with its management not to go.
Ofomata said: â€œWe engaged Aero Contractors about a month ago when we heard about their purported relocation. We are currently in dialogue with them and any public discussion may jeopardize the discussion and progress made so far.â€