Enugu – There was a chorus of praises for the Federal Government on Wednesday morning as the first commercial aircraft landed in Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu from Lagos, following the reopening of the airport.
The aircraft, about 40 minutes later, took off to Abuja after about 380 days closure of the airport for rehabilitation works.
The aircraft, Air Peace Hopper 5N-BUV, left Lagos in a 7:30 am flight and landed in Enugu by 8:19 am. It took off by 9:00 am for Abuja with passengers that included the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Senator Obinna Ogba, among others.
This happened as members of the South East Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, were at the airport as early as 7 am to confirm that commercial flights had indeed resumed at the airport.
Daily Sun observed that there was strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols irrespective social standing as passengers maintained social distancing while they checked-in and boarded the aircraft.
Nwodo, who spoke to newsmen before boarding the aircraft, said he had a great sense of relief using the airport once more after one year of closure.
He said: ‘It’s a great sense of relief that in more than one year now I’ve had to travel to Owerri or Asaba in order to catch a flight in order to get out of Enugu. The toll on my car is inestimable, the tear and wear as witnessed in the ill-maintained roads between Enugu and Asaba and between here and Owerri is a good memory to cast aside.
‘The ease of doing business with the rest of the country has been made easily more manageable by what we are about to experience today. I am grateful to the federal government for keeping to its promise to finish this rehabilitation within one year.
‘My check-in this morning was very smooth, this probably was the first time I’ve not used any protocol to get my boarding pass and I had no delays whatsoever and they were very courteous. I am hoping equally that the flight will be exciting; and I cannot thank you enough for coming here yourself to see what we are going through and to report to the world that Enugu is back on track.’
Former Minister of State for Power Chief Goddy Ogbaga spoke in similar manner.
Excited that the airport rehabilitation was getting to conclusion including the high quality of the job, he said: ‘So we feel happy and I commend the federal government for a very well done job.’
One of the passengers that alighted from the Lagos flight and a former Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), South East Chapter, Mr Ali Odefa, said it was a beautiful flight with good weather.
‘From the air, I could see the runway lights and it was very beautiful and the landing was okay. It’s a dream come true and a very welcome relief that we are landing again in Enugu, because before now we made round trips of going to Owerri before we shuttle to Ebonyi State; but now we land here and in 45 minutes, we are back home in Abakailiki and so it’s a welcome relief.’