With the danger lurking around the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu State, the Federal Government has finally decided to shut down the airport until further notice starting from August 24, 2019. Several circumstances had led to the planned closure which was first hinted in May this year. It was discovered that the closure will affect Ethiopia Airlines and Air Peace.
The closure was disclosed by Henrietta Yakubu, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, on Saturday, August 17, 2019. The announcement came more than two months after the immediate past Minister of State of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, in May 2019, addressed the problems surrounding the Akanu Ibiam International Airport.
While the Government said the closure is to resolve the existing safety and security concerns to flight operations, Sirika, in May, said the several things pose threat to flights and passengers.
- Sirika said the Airport has a bad runway and landing aids.
- Another issue about the airport was the presence of a market nearby which attracts birds.
- The birds constantly collided with aeroplanes,
- The state radio mast was wrongly placed and was directly facing the runway.
Shutdown affects operations: The closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport will affect the operation of some airline companies. The flight operation of Ethiopia Airlines and Air Peace are expected to be disrupted by the closure. This includes the weekly Ethiopian Airlines’ three to four flights into the city.
Meanwhile, Arik suspended flight operations to the airport a few months ago.
Speaking on the closure, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said Air Peace was in support of the decision, adding that FG should improve the night landing infrastructure of the airport in order to transform it into a 24-hour flight operations airport
“For the avoidance of doubt, Air Peace is fully and totally in support of this decision. Though the decision will affect the travelling public and, of course, the airline, we place the safety of the flying public, our crew and equipment above any commercial benefits.
“The government should go all out to put everything in place, within the period of the closure, that would make the airport rank among the best international airports in the country.”