The management of Anambra State International Cargo Airport, Umueri has disclosed that the state government plans to build entertainment hub at the airport premises to drive non-aeronautical revenue.
The Managing Director and CEO of the airport, Martins Nwafor made this known to journalists in an interview and said that the state government would develop a very large area at the entry of the airport for the entertainment hub.
Nwafor said that the facility would attract businesses and a lot of people who would enjoy the offerings at the hub without getting into the restricted area of the airport.
He said that this is how many airports in the world develop non-aeronautical revenue sources by building different businesses that will attract people who will money and pay for charges like car park, facility entry tickets and others.
“We are planning to develop a very large area. If you’re used to the airport, once you drive past the gate, you will drive to almost another 500 to 600 meters before you get to the car park of the airports.There is a very large expanse of land there. It is marked for an entertainment hub. In the entertainment hub, there are a whole lot that will take place there. The hub is intended to attract a whole lot of people into the airport without necessarily getting to the proper landing area of the airport. They can have their recreation, enjoy themselves, listen to music and drink while enjoying the theme of the hub. We can also have a small theatre for film and stage performance going on there.We are also looking out for investors to help us in developing that more. We’re consulting to get that done. We have the eatery already given out for construction. That is also facing the entertainment hub,” the Managing Director said.
Nwafor said that contrary to general believe that state owned airports are not profitable, the plan laid out by the Anambra state government and the management of the airport, the Umueri airport will generate revenue that will sustain its operation, adding that the airport which has only operated for one year and seven months would not only fund its operations but would generate profit to the state government to justify the investment.
“At the Anambra international passenger and cargo airport, we are not in any way a waste to the state, to Nigeria and the general aviation system globally. Some may actually not be profitable because of the way they were conceived, but I can assure you that Anambra International Cargo & Passenger Airport was well conceived and initially was a project between the Anambra state government and orient petroleum resources. However, the construction of the airport was eventually carried out by Anambra state government alone and before that was done, there was a business plan outside the fact that there was a crude oil discovery by orient petroleum resources in the Anambra area where the airport was sited. It was precisely sited at Umueri in the Anambra east local government.
Just like I said, we had a business plan and that plan is working out right now. We’re just a year and seven months old and as we go on, I am going to show you what we have done. And of-course, you’ll understand that profitability of an airport is not something you can talk about in one moment, it takes a while for you to talk about the profitability. For the viability, yes. I would not say we are not viable because there are indications to show that we are viable. In the first place, the Anambra people do a lot of travels. It is predominantly business people. Our airport is located at the point where the farthest distance in Anambra state to the airport is about 30-35 minutes. We are closer to Onitsha, the business hub of not just South-eastern Nigeria, but Nigeria as well. Nnewi is about 30-31 km away and Awka city of the capital of Anambra state.
The Managing Director said that at the moment, there are two major scheduled airlines that operate into Anambra state and that is the largest airline in Nigeria today, Air-Peace and United Nigeria Airlines. These airlines operate six days in a week, adding that Air-Peace has daily operation, one inbound from Lagos and one outbound to Lagos and an inbound from Abuja and one outbound to Abuja. While United Nigeria airlines which initially started like Air-Peace, but maybe due to shortage of equipment presently does four days in a week same way, inbound Lagos, outbound Lagos, inbound Abuja and outbound Abuja.
“So, the Air-Peace uses the E2 Embraer 195 and sometimes the Boeing 737-500/300 series while United Nigeria operates with Embraer 145. But don’t forget that when we started the operation into this airport on the 7th of December 2021, we had some restrictions and at that time, they were both operating Embraer 145 until sometime in march, 2022 when we obtained approval for Boeing 737 equivalent due to the improvements made in fire service, we brought in the three brand new Zeigler fire trucks from Germany. Then, of-course,employed additional Category 9 (CAT-9) fire service personnel. Based on that we began to operate Boeing 737 and its equivalent.
According to the Managing Director, the passenger traffic at the airport is still less that its full potential because the airport still operates Visual Flight Rule (VFR), which means that flights cannot land at the airport in the night.