International travellers from South East have commended the federal government and a Minister of Aviation, Senator Stella Oduah for the designation of Enugu as international airport.
The Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu operated its maiden international flight on august 24, 2013 and since then has sustained the outbound flights to international destinations, culminating with the deployment of cargo flight by Ethiopian airlines on Tuesday.
According to airport officials, businessmen and women from the South East have praised the federal government for making it convenient for them to travel from the region without going to Abuja or Lagos.
The Governor of Enugu state, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi along with business moguls and top political office holders in South East welcomed the first cargo flight to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
The airplane operated by Ethiopian Airlines was a Boeing B757, which has the capacity to carry bulk cargo as many travellers in the zone bring in a lot of cargo from their trips.
Amid fanfare and excitement by a large crowd who came to witness the event, the people gave kudos to the former Minister of Aviation, Oduah, now representing Anambra North Senatorial zone, in the Senate who manifested government’s good intention to make Enugu an international airport.
The former Minister, who actualised the dream of the South East people also midwifed the building of international terminal at the airport and facilitated the designation of Ethiopian Airlines to operate there.
With cargo flights to the airport, the federal government has made it possible for businessmen and women to bring their cargo through the airport, as the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company PLC had earlier built a cargo warehouse at the airport.
The coming of cargo flights to Enugu will put an end to incidents where travellers would arrive their destination and wait for days to receive their cargo and the cargo warehouse was timely because before now people’s luggage were exposed to the elements as they await clearance by concerned authorities.
Addressing the large crowd of people on the occasion, Governor Ugwuanyi described the event as a historic occasion that would increase the profile of the airport and boost the economy of the state and the entire South East zone.
The Governor said it was noteworthy that the cargo plane landed exactly three years after the maiden flight of Ethiopia Airlines to Enugu on August 24, 2013 when the people welcomed the first ever- international flight to Enugu.
“Today we have gathered again to celebrate the first landing of cargo at this same airport, and which once more has happened courtesy of the Ethiopian Airlines,” he said.
Reacting to the event, the General Manager, Public Affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Yakubu Dati said FAAN was implementing the lofty plan of Senator Hadi Sirika, Minister of State Aviation, to ensure air connectivity to different parts o the country, noting that the present administration has continued to respond to the yearnings of the people.
Dati added that government has it in its plans to designate more airlines to operate international flights, especially now that international terminal of the airport is almost ready.
Meanwhile FAAN at the weekend advised the Muslim pilgrims embarking on this year’s holy pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia to desist from smuggling prohibited items into the holy land.
This is just as the organisation responsible for managing airports across the country has assured that it would ensure that the return journey of the pilgrims back to Nigeria would be made safe and secured through the preparations that have been put on ground.
FAAN attributed the hitch free exercise so far recorded across the airports where pilgrims were airlifted to the rigorous preparation put on ground by the FAAN management
Dati cited the hard efforts made by the organisation led by the Chairman of the Aviation Monitoring Committee from the Ministry of Transport, Alhaji Adamu Wakil, to ensure safety and security at the airports while the exercise lasted.
In line with this, Dati said the committee chairman was at the Sokoto airport with top directors in FAAN to inspect and witness the operation.