The Federal Government on Sunday reopened the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, runway to flight operations.
The Minister of Aviation Sen. Hadi Sirika, during the official opening ceremony in Enugu, said that domestic flight would start immediately while the international flight would begin on September 5.
The first aircraft, a turbo prop with registration marks 5N-FCT landed at 12: 50p.m from Abuja, while another aircraft, an Air Peace Embraer 145- with registration marks 5N-BUV landed at 1:40p.m.
Sirika said that the project had cost Federal Government N10 billion.
“It is a great pleasure for me to be in Enugu for this August occasion in the mount of August for the reopening of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu for flight operations.
“The local flight can come to start from today and the international flight on Sept. 5, once the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force has opened the gate to come in.
“We are proud to say that this project is indeed a testimony to Mr President’s commitment to infrastructure development in the country.
“You may recall that the runway of this essential airport, which is vital to economic development of the region and the whole country at large, was in a very dilapidated stage and worse condition.
“This raised serious safety concern. It was on this basis that I approached President Muhammadu Buhari on the urgent need to reconstruct the runway and other associated works,” he said.
Sirika commended the President’s instant approval of N10 billion to undertake the rehabilitation of the runway and some associated works.
According to him, the project consists of taxiway, linkway, emergency operation centre, car park, entrance of the gate, perimeter fence, perimeter road, terminal building rehabilitation, pilot lounge, instrument landing system that will allow landing during bad weather.
Others, he said, are communication device, new DHF radio and rescue equipment, among others.
The minister said the focus would now be on delivering the Cargo terminal, the international terminal building and many more in the airport soonest.
He said he had approved N1 billion to continue the terminal building expansion being done by the Chinese.
“Some of the challenges encountered include, lack of bitumen, COVID-19 lockdown, and even change of hands of company handling the project, removing of abattoir and radio masks, among others,” he said.
Meanwhile, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, thanked the president for approving N10 billion to start and fast track the rehabilitation of the runway and other critical infrastructure at the airport.
He said: “The Enugu State Government, in a bid to ensure a levelling environment to help the project along, completely removed all obstacles and projects, including Emene Market, which attracted birds and was a safety concern.
“We completely removed all encroachment at the airport environment. We totally removed the Radio and Television masks from the airport; we constructed a 1.3 kilometres Asphalt road.
“We removed five units of two storey houses, 14 units of houses, one Church Cathedral, 438 Shopping Malls along Eleme among other things.
“We did a number of sacrifices for the Enugu Airport, and now it is a sacrifice that is worth it.”