JUBILANT Abuja bound
passengers who arrived the Nnamdi
Azikiwe International Airport Abuja
yesterday expressed excitement over
the opening of the airport to traffic
a day ahead the earlier announced
opening date.
The airport was earlier scheduled
to open April 19 2017 but was
opened April 18th ahead of
scheduled. Some passengers who
spoke to our correspondent said
their landing was pretty smooth
without the usual bumps when the
runway had not been fixed by the
federal government.
It cost the federal government
some N5.8bn to fix the airport in a
contract that went to Julius Berger
Nigeria Plc. Other maintenance
efforts will continue four months
into the opening. The passengers
arrived on board Ethiopian Air A350,
the latest in the Airbus series and the
first time the aircraft flew any route
commercially.
They were greeted on arrival to
the ceremonial aircraft shower by
the fire brigade to the delight of
onlookers. Thus the opening of the
Abuja airport after six weeks of
closure also saw the launch of the
brand new 313 passengers’ capacity
aircraft, A350 on the route. It flew in
from Adis Ababa Ethiopia.
The runway, which was closed
to traffic for six weeks for the failed
runway to be repaired was opened
at exactly 11am yesterday and saw
the Minister of State, Aviation, Sen.
Hadi Sirika making the first landing
on the rehabilitated runway.
His flight, a private jet flew in from
the Kaduna International Airport at
about 11:05am, ahead the Ethiopian
Airline which touched down at about
12:07pm. With this opening, normal
flights (domestic and international)
will return to the Abuja airport from
the Kaduna airport where they were
previously diverted.
Ethiopian was the only foreign
carrier that flew to Kaduna during
the six week closure with other
foreign carriers staying off. Ms Ele
Ike, who arrived with Ethiopian
Airline said her experience was good
but wished the runway was fixed in
a shorter time to safe travelers the
stress of having to travel to Kaduna
to fly abroad.
Another passenger Mr. Ibrahim
Tafida, aso told our correspondent
his landing was smooth without
bumps. Mr. Tafida however
wished that the government will
be dedicated in fixing other sectors
of the economy the way it was
precise about delivering the Abuja
runway. Mr. Amlan Talukdar, an
Indian who was onboard the aircraft
commended the government for
keeping to time on the runway
project.
The Minister of State, Aviation,
Sen. Hadi Sirika, while addressing
newsmen on in Abuja during the
resumption of flights at the Abuja
airport said “he decided to reopen
the airports on Tuesday since the
runway rehabilitation had been
completed on schedule.”
He said that “even though the
reopening date was supposed to be
Wednesday (today), it was not bad
to reopen a day earlier.” The minister
commended Nigerians and air
travelers for their resilience during
the six weeks closure of the airport.
According to him, April 19 was the
due date for us to conclude and open
the airport based on our programme
of work but that not to say, we cannot
open earlier. “We are able to deliver
the project earlier than anticipated,
so we can open it. It is natural that
we open it a day earlier. Here we
are today, we set out to achieve that
target and we achieved it. We thank
Allah for his guidance and we are
happy and thank his Excellency for
his support. I also wish to thank all
my colleagues who did it all and the
media and the Nigerian people for
standing by us” he said.

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