FAAN Awaits FG’s Directive on Enugu Airports’ Reopening for International Flights

aviation - July 3, 2021

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has said everything is set for international flight operations to resume at the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu, even as it awaits the federal government’s approval to reopen the airport.

THISDAY learnt that the Airport Council International (ACI) Africa has given health certificate to the airport for meeting Covid-19 protocols requirements.
The agency said other logistics and safety issues have been completed, so the airport can now receive international flights.

The Managing Director of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu told THISDAY that international flight service was supposed to have resumed four weeks ago, but there were minor hitches that must be corrected. These he said the agency had corrected and awaiting report of work from the airport, adding that issues concerning security had been completed.

“Flight operation was supposed to resume just about three or four weeks ago, but have some minor hitches but they are very critical hitches. And we are expecting a report this week. If we get the report within a day or within 48 hours we can work on it.

“The hitches are not on security but on the facility. We have our standards. There are some things you can look at the airport and think they are working fine or you don’t need to improve but based on our own regulations and standards, we know we have to take them up to that standard, but the passengers might not really understand. We have to make sure those critical facilities are top standard,” he said.

The FAAN boss also explained that earlier in June the agency had completed issues relating to Covid-19 protocols and had gone far in completing the requirement for fire cover for international operations.
According to him, there was a need to close the airport in order to work on safety-critical facilities and put them to standard before reopening it.

“We have done with protocol issues; fire cover issue is the one we are dealing with and we have already gone very far in resolving it. That is why I said we are just waiting for a report.
“We don’t want to say that despite the pressure on us we are just going to commence operation, it is a technical reason which has to do with safety of operations. Those were what caused the delay in reopening the airport,” he said.
Yadudu also noted that the airport has to be put in good standard, including regards to safety, which was the major reason for the delay.

“We have the responsibility to ensure that we expedite work to ensure that safety parameters are met before opening. Closing the airport till now is not something we are happy about, but we have to do so in the interest of all stakeholders, all Nigerians, and FAAN itself,” Yadudu said.

However, THISDAY learnt on Wednesday that every work at the airport has been completed, but awaiting the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, to give a go ahead for resumption of international flight operations at the airport.

“I am sure the airport will be re-opened. All necessary things are in place now. We have received ACI health certification for the airport. But are airlines ready to start going there?”a senior official in FAAN asked.
THISDAY also learnt that Ethiopian Airlines, which is the only international carrier that operates to Enugu, is ready to resume flights to the airport, once government orders for the reopening of flights.

“Airlines are waiting for opportunities to start operation and Ethiopian Airlines is ready. Once the airport is reopened the airline will resume flights. Let them declare the airport open,” official close to the airline told THISDAY.

In August last year, the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu was reopened after rehabilitation work on the runway was completed, but the international operations to the airport was closed along with that of the airports in Kano, Port Harcourt due to Covid-19 pandemic, but in May the other airports resumed international services, but that of Enugu was delayed for the aforementioned upgrade of critical facilities.

Air travellers who use the airport have expressed worry that it remained the only international airport that was yet to be reopened but now that FAAN had acknowledged that work has been completed, it is hoped that the Minister would approve resumption of international flights from the airport.

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