By Kenneth Ehigiator
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, yesterday assured the public that Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, would not be shut over debts owed the Power Holdings Company of Nigeria, PHCN.
PHCN Regional Office in Port Harcourt had last week threatened to cut power supply to the airport should FAAN fail to pay up its N7.4 billion debt.
FAANâ€™s Managing Director, Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun, who allayed fears of the public over PHCNâ€™s threats, said the agency had put in place measures to resolve any difference between it and PHCN over power supply to the airport.
This, according to him, may involve the reconciliation of accounts between the two organisations at the regional level.
He assured that FAAN, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Aviation, would strive to ensure that all ongoing projects designed to transform Port Harcourt airport were completed before the end of the year, especially the perimeter fence and road.
He noted that only recently, two fire trucks were sent to the airport to enhance the capacity of fire cover at the airport.
Aisuebeogun reiterated that the airport was among the five airports earmarked by the Federal Government for remodelling before the end of 2011 to enhance service delivery.
The others are the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos; Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu; Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Although FAAN strives to offset its bills regularly, including those on electricity, Aisuebeogun lamented that some government agencies and airlines, which continued to explore the growing and lucrative Nigerian market, owe the authority on services rendered to them, including recovery of electricity charges.
He added: â€œWhile the airlines continued to give excuses over their failure to pay their debts, they are vocal in their criticisms of FAAN on the poor state of the airports. In the best interest of the operators, FAAN has spent over N380 million on measures aimed at combating bird strike, a menace to safety and security of air travel worldwide.
“The airlines and other concessionaires, from our records, owe the Authority over N18 billion. Although efforts are ongoing to reconcile accounts with these debtors, their payments have continued to be irregular.
â€œIt is lamentable that the Authority pays an average of N60 million monthly on electricity bill just for the Lagos airport alone.”