…As Ethiopian airline makes first landing
After a successful completion of the Abuja airport’s runway rehabilitation, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Tuesday announced the opening of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, a day earlier than the scheduled date.
Recall that on the 8th of March, the Abuja Airport runway was shut to air operations to allow for the construction of a new runway following the dilapidated state of the previous one. The government announced a closure of six weeks which will expire on the 19th of April.
The Minister had promised to resign if the runway is not open on the 19th April as scheduled.
Addressing newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, Sirika said he decided to reopen the airports a day ahead since the runway rehabilitation had been completed on schedule.
According to him, “April 19 was the due date for us to conclude and open the airport based on our programme of work but that is not to say, we cannot open it earlier.
“We are able to deliver the project earlier than anticipated, so we can open it. It is natural that we open it a day earlier.
“Here we are today, we set out to achieve that target and we achieved it.
” 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.
The minister commended Nigerians and air travellers for their resilience during the six weeks closure of the airport.
The Ethiopian airline Bale mountain – ET- ATR A350 was the first Airline to use the newly constructed runway. The plane landed at about 12:07 pm.
Passengers at the airport said they were surprised that the airport could be opened as promised.
Hungarian Ambassador to Nigeria, Gabor Ternak who was at the airport at the re-opening said the example set by the Nigerian government was a record breaking to other countries.
“It was a surprise that the Abuja airport would be re-opened on the schedule much less, a day earlier. I was really surprised.
“I did not anticipate that the airport would be ready tomorrow how much more a day earlier. This s really a change government and it speaks volume of the country to other countries of the world,” he added.
A passenger who was aboard the Ethiopian aircraft, Gabor Baranyi said passengers were told while boarding that they were going to land in Kaduna but at the last minute, they announced that the aircraft was to land in Abuja.
“It was a smooth journey and landing in Abuja. I must say l did not expect to land in Abuja but it was really good to land in Abuja again after six weeks” he said.
Another passenger Ibrahim Dikko. Said “I think it is something that Nigerians should be proud of which goes to show that if we put our minds at something it can be achieved. Here we are at an historic event” he added.