By Tony Edike
ENUGUâ€”THE Federal Government said, yesterday that it has not given approval for upgrading of the Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu to an international status,Â stressing that only four airports, including those in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt would remain as international airports for now.
The explanation came against the backdrop of recent media reports that the Federal Government had awarded a N4.13 billion contract for the upgrading of facilities in the airport to an international status, a development that was hailed by the people of the South East.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu had also confirmed to newsmen in Enugu, that the contract which was approved by the Federal Executive Council in its recent meeting at Abuja, was aimed at granting the airport an international status.
But the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Babatunde Omotoba, while flagging-off the project at Enugu airport yesterday, said the contract was primarily to rehabilitate and upgrade facilities in the airport to meet aviation safety standard as well as to make provision for heavier aircrafts.
He said,Â â€œI can not confirm that Enugu airport has become an international airport for now.Â We have four international airports, Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt but we have other airports that have started showing signs of strong traffic. That is Calabar, Enugu, Kaduna and Benin, and government is determined to ensure that available systems in the airports meet up with relevant standards.â€
Stating that the contractor has within one year to complete the expansion work, which would also involve expanding the width of the runway to 60 meters, the Minister said that in the next one year, Enugu airport would have become a brand new airport with new runways.
Omotoba said that the airport would be shut to traffic by January next year and airlines that operate at the airport will use the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, Imo State, as alternative.