Thursday, 9 October 2008

Yola - What manner of International Airport?

If like me, you wonder why flights in Africa were the scantiest in this graphic of Air Traffic around the world, this absurd story in the Nigerian newspaper - The Nation, might offer one explanation out of many.

Money quote:

"For over two hours, the chartered aircraft which brought the governor from Abuja to Yola... hovered in the air.
Flight ZSKBS HS 25 could not land as the airport was closed and its officials had gone home...
It eventually landed at about 10:30pm after the Airport Manager, Mr. Morris F. Ituka, was called from home to save the situation."

How did the Pilot call the Airport Manager?

"It was gathered that when the plane arrived in Yola, the pilot found the airport in darkness and he could not locate the runway. He hovered in the air, preparatory to making an emergency landing.
Suntai [the governor] was said to have given the pilot his mobile telephone to call the airport manager. Ituka was said to have re-opened the airport and cleared the flight for landing.

Funny? Absurd? Ludicrous? or what?

The governor should be thankful for small mercies, at least his mobile phone worked from the air and the airport manager's phone wasn't switched off!!

But on a serious note, one reason why the "international airport" operates a skeletal service might be tied to this story from the May 13 edition of The Guardian newspaper.

Here's the money quote:

"IN a bid to boost the revenue of Yola Airport, the management has concluded plans to shift its attention from aeronautical to non-aeronautical ventures.
Mukhtar Mohammed[the airport manager] explained that the construction of 150 shops, Cyber cafe and the construction of four water bore-holes are in progress to ensure that attention was shifted from aeronautical to non-aeronautical services.
According to him, "the airport planned to go into sachet water business in order to utilise the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) uninterrupted power to enhance business in the area."
He, however, appealed to government agencies to come to the aid of Yola Airport to enable it tap the agricultural potentials as the state were noted for Agriculture."

Any wonder why the core business of planes landing and taking off took the back seat?

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