The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), has announced its hosting of the 59th Airport Council International Board and Regional Committees Meetings and Regional Conference and Exhibition holding in Lagos.

According to managing director, FAAN, Mr. Saleh Dunoma, the move became necessary especially this period Nigeria needs investment particularly in the aviation sector.

Briefing the press in Lagos in view of this epoch making event, Dunoma who is also the president of ACI-Africa executive board said no fewer than 300 delegates from Africa and other parts of the world will attend the event slated for April 14-19, 2018.

Dunoma who announced the theme of the conference as ‘Business Transformation for Sustainable Development of African Airports said “serving in the capacity as the ACI-Africa president will ensure that Nigeria is in the limelight and will also give Nigeria an advantage in decision making as it relates to aviation matters in Africa and the world.

He said Nigeria’s hosting of the conference “is a pioneer achievement for Nigeria as this is the first time in history that this prestigious position will be occupied by a Nigerian.”

He said ACI had been of tremendous assistance in the certification process of the Lagos and Abuja airports through airport excellence (APEX) in safety programme which “helped us identify safety gaps in our aerodromes.”

Thereafter, the managing director said FAAN had commenced airport APEX in safety programme at four international airports in Port Harcourt, Kano, Enugu and Kaduna.

He said the week-long APEX safety review at the Port Harcourt International Airport will be closely followed by the APEX review in Kano while the safety reviews for Kaduna and Enugu will be carried out in May.

“FAAN is engaging a proactive means of mitigating risks and ensuring the overall safety of our passengers.

Over the years, he said African airports have been run mainly as government entities without the drive for profitable management.

“This has resulted in many airports being classified as non-viable and unable to meet their operational costs. This has posed a major problem in the efficient running of nonviable airports which are unable to cater for their maintenance and operational needs thereby leading to stakeholder and customer service dissatisfaction,” he said.

“Airports have the potential to be generators of economic growth, job creators and facilitators of international trade and tourism. To ensure these roles and continue to reap the benefits, airports must ensure sustainable development that includes the enhancement of non-aeronautical revenues as a critical component of an airport’s revenue stream and bottom line.

“With less than 20 per cent of commercial revenue, airports in Africa must transform themselves from being not just public service providers but commercial enterprises that generate profits,” he added.

Dunoma said ACI recognizes that customers are at the forefront of every viable business, hence the introduction of the airport service quality (ASQ) programme which is geared towards engaging airport customers to access service quality.

The sessions to be held at the conference will include, innovation in airport business, business innovation in airport retail, the future of airport tax free shops, changing leadership mindsets for succeed transformation, the future of airport charges and taxes, technology to support business transformation, and transformation in practice among others.