Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said that the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu, will be opened for local and international commercial flights before Christmas.
Speaking on Channels Television, the minister said that work was ongoing and if there was sufficient funding to complete repairs on the dilapidated runway, the Federal government would reopen it before Christmas.
“Work is ongoing. If everything is equal and we get all of the funding, we intend to reopen it before Christmas. Work does not necessarily mean the bringing of equipment into the airport to begin the reconstruction of that particular airport or runway; work entails the planning, mobilising people for work and the actual work itself. The planning is even more important than the work itself because when you plan very well, you succeed.
“This runway closed itself because it actually failed and we kept trying to get it to function very well but it kept failing on a daily basis. We were very afraid that what happened in Port Harcourt many years ago could happen on this runway because in Port Harcourt, it was failing and the then Ministry of Aviation was doing the best they could to keep the runway safe, but unfortunately, the runway started to fail like mad and when Air France landed, it got stuck. It took two years and a half to get the runway back to function properly.
“Every airport will have its maintenance programme with the facility management and then set things in place now so as to be able to do maintenance as at when due and if it needs total resurfacing and reconstruction , we would do all of that,” Sirika said.
Following regulatory framework to shut down the Akanu Ibiam airport, the Federal government announced in May that the airport would be closed and domestic flights would be diverted to Sam Mbakwe Cargo Airport, Owerri, while international flights would be diverted to Port Harcourt.
The Federal government through the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), issued a shutdown date on August 24, 2019, for rehabilitation of the runway and upgrade of its facilities to meet international standard.