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Airport Upgrading In Nigeria

Akanu Ibiam International Airport closed for repairs

Chinedu Eze  Dec 01, 2009

The Minister of Aviation, Mr. Babatunde Omotoba, will today flag off the rehabilitation and upgrade of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Enugu State in Nigeria.

The airport, which was closed temporarily on Saturday for repairs, will be closed to traffic until January of next year. Airlines that operate to the airport will start using Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, Imo State, as an alternative.

The runway, which is 2,400 meters long, will be extended by 600 meters to make it 3,000 meters or three kilometers, and the width will be extended from the existing 45 meters to 60 meters.

When completed, it is expected that the runway will be wide enough to accommodate wide-body aircraft.

It is also expected that with its new status as an international airport, the airport would be designated for international operations in the future.

The general manager of public affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Akin Olukunle, said that the runway rehabilitation and extension contract was awarded to PW Limited, and it is expected to be completed in 12 months from the day work starts on the project.

The cost of the project, which is N4.13 billion, was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and will include extension, asphalting, and marking of the runway.

According to Olukunle, this is part of the restructuring program being embarked on by the Ministry of Aviation and FAAN for the total rehabilitation of airport facilities in the country.

Last year, the Yar'Adua Administration upgraded the Enugu airport to international status in tandem with the new policy of having at least one international airport in every geopolitical zone of the country.

It is expected that chieftains of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would accompany the Ministry to the flag-off ceremony as the south-east caucus of the party will be holding a meeting in Enugu on the same day.

It was also learned that work started on the Enugu airport on Saturday, and the runway was closed to traffic from the morning until 4:00 pm.

FAAN assured users that the airport would not be closed until after the new year because of the influx of traffic to the airport during the Yuletide, when airlines would increase their frequency to the south eastern city.

Aviation expert, Chris Aligbe, commended the effort and said the upgrade of the airport was overdue because Enugu is the fourth busiest airport in the country, which deserves more attention than it is getting from the concerned agencies.

He also suggested that the international flights should be designated to international airlines, because the airport is situated in the business hub of the south-east.

Akanu Ibiam International Airport closed for repairs
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