The federal government has rejected the recent survey that placed the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, in Rivers State at the top of the worst airports in the world.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Hajia Binta Bello, said the survey conducted by SleepingInAirports.net, a travel website that reviews the best and worst airports in the world, was not reflective of the reality of Nigerian airports.
The website annually conducts a survey by asking air travelers to rate their airport experiences based on services and facilities available within the terminal, cleanliness, customer service, comfort and their overall airport experience.
According to the website, voters suggested that apart from being the worst airport in the world, the Port Harcourt Airport should also be crowned the most corrupt airport in the world.
Surprisingly, this is the first time a Nigerian airport would be ranked among the world’s worst airports on the website.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos on the sidelines of the 21st annual seminar of League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC), the permanent secretary said Nigerian airports are not as bad as portrayed in the survey.
Mrs. Binta admitted that while there were challenges at some of the international airports owing to construction works that are ongoing, the challenges would be over as soon as the projects are completed.
She added that the ongoing new terminals in Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt would be completed and commissioned by the first quarter of next year.
On the airport rating, she said, “It is up to readers to agree or to disagree on the rating. When I saw the rating, the question I asked is that do we still have touts at the airports, are our airports dirty, are we corrupt, do we agree with all those questions? It is something that I cannot categorically say, ‘yes we are corrupt, our airports are not clean, our airports are congested, and so on’. I am sure you can actually see if these airports are actually dirty, if they are full of touts and if they are chaotic.
“This morning I flew in through Abuja airport and about five airlines were boarding at the same time. I did not see any chaos there, it was a smooth operation, passengers were going in their various buses assigned for the airlines and the whole operation was very smooth”.
“So I cannot accept that the airports are dirty, just as I cannot accept that the airports are congested. If we have a temporary challenge because of the construction of terminals that are going on in Abuja for instance, we all know that there is a lot of work going on there. If we have temporary challenge, it is something that will come to past immediately the terminals’ re-modelling is completed”, she added.