Benin Airport to Receive Night Flights, as NAMA Reopens Osubi Airstrip

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Fola Akinkuotu

By Chinedu Eze

The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency is working with the Edo State government to provide night landing facilities at Benin airport to ensure flight operations beyond 6.p.m.

This was disclosed by NAMA, which also stated that it has restored air traffic service at Osubi airstrip, also known as Warri airport.

The Managing Director of NAMA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, told THISDAY that Benin airport would begin to receive night flights before December this year.

Akinkotu’s position was also corroborated by the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki who said that his government was working closely with NAMA to ensure the final installation of night landing facilities at the Benin airport was completed.

Speaking as the Special Guest of Honour at the 5th Annual General Meeting of the National Air Traffic Communicators Association of Nigeria (NACAN) over the weekend in Benin City, Obaseki urged NACAN to support the government and people of the state to make Benin airport more viable with the commencement of night flight operations.

“I want to thank Capt. Akinkuotu for the work he is doing in Benin airport, he has worked very closely with us to ensure that we have night landing facilities and ILS in Benin airport. That’s one of the reasons why I personally decided to attend this event to express the gratitude of Edo people to him and to NAMA for all the support”

According to the governor, the Benin airport remained one of the first five airports in the country with rapid passenger growth.

 Obaseki noted that the country with almost 200 million people create huge market for aviation with only about one percent traveling by air transport, still remained high in the continent when compared with other countries.

Meanwhile, NAMA has confirmed that it has restored air control services to the Osubi airstrip.

The agency in a statement signed by its Head of Communications, Khalid Emele, said following appeals from well-meaning stakeholders and in consideration of the overall interest of the air travel public, it has resumed air traffic services at Osubi airstrip.

This decision is consequent upon the payment of N31 million by Shoreline Oil Services Limited, operators of the airstrip, being part payment of accumulated charges for the provision of air traffic services at the airstrip by NAMA. The payment leaves Shoreline Oil Services with a debt balance of N566, 422, 000.50 as of today (yesterday), October 28, 2018.”

NAMA said it took the difficult decision to withdraw air traffic services to Osubi airstrip after Shoreline Oil Services persistently refused to honour financial obligation to us despite several entreaties.

“As a responsible corporate citizen and provider of critical services to the nation’s civil aviation sector, we felt obliged to restore our services to the airstrip with the understanding that Shoreline Oil Services will take full advantage of this window of opportunity to make additional payment that will substantially defray the above N566, 422, 000.50 debt as well as agree on a concrete and workable payment plan that will clear the outstanding balance.

“It is our hope that going forward, and in the spirit of the renewed understanding between both organisations, Shoreline will reciprocate this gesture by paying for our services as and when due,” NAMA said.

The agency also explained that it did not shut down the airstrip; rather, it withdrew its services, noting that it does not have the powers to shut down any airport or airstrip.