The Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, over the weekend confirmed that Africa’s major carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, would kick off its inaugural flight from Enugu to Addis Ababa, the East African nation’s capital on August 24.
Oduah said Ethiopian Airlines would be the first international flight operation from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport since it was designated by the federal government as the only international airport in the South-east zone and as part of the aviation master plan of this administration.
The Minister revealed that the historical flight would arrive the Enugu airport by 12.30 p.m. and depart by 1:30 p.m. local time in the four-time weekly operation from Enugu.
The operation of Ethiopian Airlines into Enugu, she said, would be the satisfaction of an enduring call from the people of the zone who had for many years, clamoured for an international airport which they believed would reinforce the resourcefulness of the people, known for their entrepreneurship and trade.
“Henceforth, businessmen and other travellers from Enugu, Aba, Abakaliki, Onitsha, Owerri, Umuahia as well as Asaba and Benin, will be saved the distress of travelling for hours to Lagos and Abuja to catch international flights, trips that are sometimes fraught with problems, including dangers on the road to catch international flights.
“Many of the passengers have lost their goods on transit as they convey them from these cities to their final destinations on their arrival from their overseas trips,” said Oduah
The General Manager, Corporate Communications, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Yakubu Dati, said the Jonathan administration had fulfilled his promise of giving every part of the country equal opportunity to develop and realise its dreams, adding that few months ago, the president unveiled the domestic terminal at the airport and also laid the foundation for the building of international terminal, which work is in progress.
Dati also recalled that the Akanu Ibiam International Airport was designed and built by the former Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, at the age of 26, remarking that it is historical that his vision of many years ago is now being fulfilled.
“The Minister of Aviation has shown her determination to actualise the goals of the aviation master plan which the Jonathan administration has pegged its transformation agenda on. The agenda include giving every part of the country and every citizen the opportunity to grow to his or her full potential.
“With the international flight operations at the airport, a novel opportunity has been given to the people of the zone to expand their business horizon without stress and the inconveniences of having to travel far to catch international flights,” he said.
Furthermore, Travel expert, Ikech Uko, also described the operation of international flights from Enugu airport as opening up a business hub which was latent in the past, predicted that other airlines from the Middle East and Africa would soon start operation from Enugu, “thereby making the Coal City a sub hub for international commercial flights and business.”