At last, after a year and six days the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria shut down flights operation at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport for safety concerns, the airport was on Sunday reopened for business.
FAAN had on August 24, 2019 shut down flight operations in the airport after prominent Igbo sons and daughters lamented the deplorable state of the airport, describing it as a death trap.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), subsequently approved N10bn special fund for the reconstruction/ rehabilitation work at the airport after the South-East Governors and Igbo leaders led a delegation to the presidency.
Speaking during the official reopening on Sunday, the president who was represented by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said that the completion of work at the runway and the reopening of flights operation “was a promise kept.”
Buhari said the Airport was so important to the aviation industry as well as to the people of the South-East because of its revenue base, adding that was why everything humanly possible was done to see that the Airport reopened on time.
Sirika said that by approving the sum of N10bn for the rehabilitation of the airport, Buhari had shown how dedicated he was towards the infrastructural development of the South-East and the country at large.
“With the airport reopening today, it is now open to local flights and on 5th September, International flights will resume as soon as we begin to allow them into the country,” the minister said.
He added that he had also approved the sum of N1bn for the continuation of works at the International Terminal building as well as the Cargo terminal, in a bid to upgrade the airport to international standards.
The minister commended the South-East governors for their support in ensuring that the repair works were carried out as quickly as possible and thanked the governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, especially for removing the obstacles that would have hindered the progress of the project.
Speaking at the occasion, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said he never believed, “that what we are seeing today will happen.”
Nwodo who was so delighted that the airport was reopened eventually thanked Buhari for approving money for the project.
He also thanked Ugwuanyi for his efforts in making sure that the project became a reality.
Apart from Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, Governors David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Willie Obiano of Anambra State and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State were present. Imo State Governor, Hope
Uzodimma, was represented by his Deputy.
Meanwhile, Air Peace on Sunday became the first commercial airline to land at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, after the completion of rehabilitation works at the airport runway.
Onboard the flight which landed at exactly 1.30pm were ministers of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba.
It also had Senators Ike Ekweremadu, Uche Ekwunife, Chukwuka Utazi and some members of the House of Representatives including Nnoli Nnaji.
On arrival, they all headed to the Enugu State Government House to hold discussions.