Air trav­ellers in Nige­ria laud As­aba air­port’s flight re­sump­tion

Business a.m. - - NIGERIA FRONTIER MARKETS -

AIR TRAVEL LERS WHO NOW con­nect Delta State and other ad­join­ing cities via the As­aba In­ter­na­tional Air­port have lauded the air­port’s flight re­sump­tion. They said it has come to clear their years of night­mares

On 8 Oc­to­ber, Air Peace Air­lines, a lead­ing do­mes­tic air­line group be­gan com­mer­cial flights into and out of the air­port to meet air trav­ellers’ needs. The air­line an­nounced its re­sump­tion of daily La­gos-As­aba-La­gos flights, and would soon add Abuja-As­abaAbuja flights to the ser­vice.

Chris Iwarah, cor­po­rate man­ager of Air Peace, said since they sus­pended op­er­a­tions to As­aba air­port, mem­bers of the fly­ing pub­lic had in­un­dated them with calls and ap­peals to re­turn.

“We are, how­ever, thank­ful that the Delta State govern­ment had to in­ter­vene to give the air­port a facelift. We have been as­sured that the air­port is now safe to op­er­ate for mem­bers of the fly­ing pub­lic wish­ing to travel to As­aba, Anam­bra and other con­nect­ing cities,” Iwarah said.

The Nige­rian Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity (NCAA) re­cently up­graded the air­port to Cat­e­gory 6 sta­tus after a suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of its 3.4km run­way re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion work.

NCAA ap­proval now qual­i­fies the air­port to re­ceive and dis­patch large air­craft. This is a de­vi­a­tion from what has been on ground where the air­port had been op­er­at­ing as an aero­drome since May 2015 when it was down­graded.

Gover­nor Ifeanyi Okowa sourced N5 bil­lion loan to fin­ish up work at the air­port, which foun­da­tion stone was laid in May 2008 un­der the im­me­di­ate past gover­nor, Em­manuel Ud­u­aghan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. This brings the to­tal cost of the air­port to N32 bil­lion, as the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion said it spent N27 bil­lion to build it.

First com­mer­cial flight landed there in March 2011. But NCAA soon dis­cov­ered that the air­port did not com­ply with some key safety and se­cu­rity stan­dards, which forced it (NCAA) to down­grade it.

The NCAA said then the air­port would only be al­lowed the op­er­a­tions of Dash 8-Q 400 air­craft or its equiv­a­lent un­til all the safety mea­sures were guar­an­teed.

The Fed­eral Govern­ment had said its de­ci­sion fol­lowed fu­tile at­tempts by the state govern­ment to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of safety at its air­port, thus vi­o­lat­ing the com­pli­ance with safety stan­dards as stip­u­lated in the Nige­rian Civil Avi­a­tion Rules, CARs Part 12.6.2 and 12.6.3 in re­spect of the air­port run­way and its associated fa­cil­i­ties, as well as ad­e­quately trained per­son­nel.

As the flight com­menced on the said date, the chief pi­lot, Egonu Vic­tor, a cap­tain, ex­pressed plea­sure at the mas­sive up­grade the air­port had un­der­gone, de­scrib­ing it as one of the best in the coun­try. He said the up­grade would at­tract big­ger air­craft to the air­port soon.

Mean­while, the state govern­ment says it would con­ces­sion the air­port next year. The modal­i­ties are still sketchy.

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