Airports have come a long way from the time that they were mere landing or take-off nodes for aircraft and entry or exit points for passengers. Today it is the airports that have become the gateway of every country in the world.
However, the airports have transformed themselves into vibrant, dynamic spaces fulfilling multifarious needs of their customers through the passengers, the airlines and the cargo shippers.
Modern airports are said to be more convenient to access and have facilities to make layovers productive and enjoyable.
Over the years the key development of airports has been the transformation of an airport from a public utility enterprise to a commercial enterprise along with the adoption of a more businesslike management philosophy, which has contributed largely to Privatisation.
Therefore, governments around the globe have recognised the contribution and importance of the image and standard of their airports to their overall economic well-being. All over the world, several models of airport privatization have emerged from 100 per cent private sector control to varying degrees of partial privatisation.
One model, which has gained momentum, is the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. The PPP model for airports, where the shareholding is between the Government and the Private sector, is based on high investments, building the facility to international standards, creating capacity for handling increasing number of passengers and cargo and recovering investments from concessions for operating the airport over a long period of time with levy of different types of fees on all its customers.
Speaking recently on public-private partnership and airport operations in the Nigeria aviation industry, at the First Girls in Aviation Day, organised by the glowing wings chapter of Women in Aviation International, in Lagos, the Chief Operations Officer, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, Ms. Adebisi Awoniyi, stated the PPP is a means of introducing private sector technology, innovation and funding in providing better public services
She added that in this partnership, the private investor wishes to have good returns on investment, while the government is out to provide better infrastructure to her populace and the populace enjoys better services and infrastructure
Focusing on aviation sector, she said that PPP helps the government invest better on what she knows best to do rather than focusing on capital-intensive large scale projects that drain national resources that can better be applied elsewhere.
According to Awoniyi, it has helped private sector to deliver projects within a specific timeline and budget unlike Governments whose projects are often long drawn out.
She maintained that PPP brings about diversification and specialisation in the Aviation sector by making the sector more competitive in the provision of services.
“In the case of airport operations BI-Courtney has indeed raised the bar in terminal operation, service delivery and customer satisfaction in the country as whole”, said she.
Speaking further, Awoniyi noted that PPP limits the risk of government in the application of resources. It is considered to limit the collateral damage that can possible be experienced by government as the private investor acts as the buffer for the Federal Government, she pointed,
She added that: “Funding of such an arrangement is left strictly to the private investor who takes all the associated risk. Bi-Courtney has taken its own risk in this current PPP arrangement we have with the Federal Government and has come out stronger. The government invariably has little or nothing to lose should the return on investment not be to the expectation of Bi-Courtney”.