By Kenneth Ehigiator
The Federal Government assured at the weekend that Benin Airport would not be relocated from its present location.
This comes as government has concluded plans to expand the airport to make way for rising aircraft and passenger movement.
Former Aviation Minister, Mr. Babatunde Omotoba, had stirred the hornetâ€™s nest by announcing last year that the airport would be relocated for it to properly align with the air route to Benin.
His pronouncement drew the ire of the Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa, and other prominent Edo citizens, including Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia and Chief Gabriel Igbinedion.
But speaking with newsmen at the weekend in Benin, Manager of the airport, Ben Oma Obule, said there was no plan to relocate the airport, stressing that the Federal Government only has plans to expand it to cope with increasing passenger traffic.
He said work on the expansion would commence immediately after the engineers have finished with the assessment of the area.
According to him, the airport halls, (arrival and departure) which were constructed to take about 400 passengers now play host to over 1,000 during peak periods when all flights originating from Abuja and Lagos arrive at the airport.
He ruled out the possibility of relocating the airport, adding that the expansion work would be done in a way that it would accommodate more passengers during peak periods.
He said:Â Â â€œ There is no way we can relocate the Benin airport. We are going for expansion and already, the engineers have arrived to look at it to work out the strategies for the terminal building to be extended backward.â€
Obule, who confirmed the increase in passengers and aircraft movement in recent times declared that in 2009, which was used as the base year, 158,550 passengers arrived the airport, while 151,055 departed, adding that aircraft movement recorded in-bound was 3,730 and outward bound flight 3,675.