The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) may soon concession the protocol department of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, both local and international wings, and the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Aiport, Abuja to a private firm.

The privatization plan has been on for over three years, but unions led by the Air Transport Senior Staff Services of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) have fiercely opposed it.

Aviation sources told our correspondent that FAAN’s staff presently generate between N6 million and N8 million monthly from the international wing of the airport alone, but FAAN’s management wanted to concession three terminals at N9 million monthly, a far-cry from the sum currently generated from the terminals.

A letter signed by Oluwajimi Adebakin, the Nigerian representative of the concession firm, Nas Pear Assist Limited, asked FAAN to provide information about the protocol operations at the airport. Dated June 8, 2016, the letter was titled "Provisional Offer--Passenger Support and Business Lounge Services (LOS & ABV)," and addressed to FAAN's acting director of Commercial and Business Development, Toyin Okpaise.

The private firm also asked FAAN to furnish it with the number of passengers that used meet and assist services or business lounges in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In addition, the company wanted to know the numbers budgeted for 2016 as well as numbers projected for 2017, 2018 and 2019 from MMA GAT, Lagos; NAIA GAT, Abuja and MMIA, Lagos.

The proposed concessionaire also demanded to know the average number of passenger flights (arrival and departure) on each day of the week and also the names of current employees of FAAN as at May 1, 2016 working within the agency’s passenger support services and business lounge divisions at the affected airports.

Our source disclosed that FAAN wanted the private company to absorb some of its employees under the proposed concession agreement.

The private firm's letter also urged FAAN to "provide the following information on each of current employees within these divisions; date of joining, current job titles and current salaries. Please be advised the overall valuation of NAS management team is good, we however need historic data of revenue being actual figures on how the business is doing currently under the management of FAAN.”

A union leader told our correspondent that the unions supported the involvement of private operators in the industry, especially to improve non-aeronautic revenues, but adding that the unions were opposed to "the improper concession agreements by FAAN."

The union source insisted that the contractual agreement between FAAN and the company was skewed against the Federal Government, stressing that the number of years of concession was not spelt out in the agreement.

The union spokesman alleged that one of the two companies seeking to take-over the protocol department was being funded by a senior staff in FAAN, stressing that this negated civil service rules.

"We were told unofficially by the management that it planned to give out the protocol department to a company that will generate higher revenues to FAAN. We applauded the situation and we told the management that we needed to carry out some investigation. Our investigation proved that the privatization proposal was not as rosy as the picture initially painted by the management.

“We quickly drew the attention of the management to these observations. One, how would a third party company want to provide services for FAAN and absorb its staff? What conditions of service will this company operate with? Are they going to be private or public conditions of service? Some of these questions have not been fully answered by FAAN.”

The unions have warned that they plan to formally petition the Federal Government if the agency’s management eventually hands over the protocol services to the private company. "We are ready to expose some of the shady deals in the agency in recent times," a union leader said.

Murtala Muhammed International Airport

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