Abuja airport re-opens earlier than schedule – Minister

Normal aviation services, including flights, resumed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Tuesday as the Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, reopened the facilities a day earlier than schedule.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the airport was reopened after successful completion of its runway rehabilitation.

Sirika, while addressing newsmen in Abuja, said he decided to reopen the airport since the runway rehabilitation had been completed on schedule.

He added that even though the reopening date was supposed to be Wednesday, 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 is the due date ”for us to conclude and open the airport based on our programme of work; we are able to deliver the project earlier than anticipated, so we can open it”.

“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.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Airlines’ flight is the first to land at the airport on Tuesday with its Airbus A350-900 aircraft at 12:10pm.

The 313-capacity aircraft is one of the last aircraft manufactured by Airbus and also one of the latest acquisitions of the airline, according to Mrs Firiehiwot Mekonnen, Traffic and Sales Manager.

A passenger, Mr Amlan Talukdar, who flew in from New Delhi, told newsmen that he was happy that he did not have to travel by road from Kaduna to Abuja.

Talukdar added that when he was taking off from New Delhi, India, what was on his mind was how to travel on road from Kaduna.

He commended the Federal Government for its commitment towards transforming aviation sector.

“When I was about to travel to Nigeria from India, I was confused as to my destination but I am happy that my final destination is Abuja and not Kaduna,” he said.

Another passenger, Mrs Henan Abdou said she flew with Ethiopian airlines from Addis Ababa, adding that it was a pleasant experience to have traveled on the aircraft.

“I am happy with the flight, it was smooth and convenient,” she said.

The Abuja airport was shut for six weeks to enable Julius Berger to repair its failed runway while Abuja-bound air traffic was diverted to Kaduna during the period.

By the successful landing of the Ethiopian aircraft on Tuesday, the airport has officially been opened for flight operations. (NAN)

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