By Kenneth Ehigiator
The Federal Government will on Thursday, December 16, 2010, re-open the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, only for daylight visual flight operations.

Following the upgrade of the airport to international status by the Federal Government, operations into it was shut down about two years ago to pave way for a reconstruction of the runway to integrate its current status, while flights were diverted to Owerri.

A statement issued weekend by Mr. Onyekwere Nnaepke for the General Manager, Public Affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, said the re-opening of the airport was informed by the completion of the first phase of rehabilitation work on the runway.

FAAN said the first phase of the rehabilitation project, being handled by PW Nigeria Ltd., involved the asphalting, expansion and extension of the runway length from 2,400m to 3,000m and extension of the width from 45 metres to 60 metres.

According to the agency, the second phase of the project will include the construction of a new taxiway, extension of the existing apron, and installation of Category 2 airfield lighting system, AFL.

FAAN said the first phase of the project had been completed to make way for daylight operations, while work, still continuing on the second phase, would be completed by June 2011.

“On completion, the new runway will be able to take wide bodied aircraft in the range of Boeing 747, in line with the recent upgrading of the airport to international category by the Federal Government.

“The rehabilitation of  Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, is part of a major rehabilitation programme embarked upon by the present administration to improve on infrastructure at all the airports in the country, especially the major airports.”

“It will be recalled that the re_modelling of five major airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port_harcourt and Enugu was recently approved by the federal government to improve on facilities in these airports.

A pilot project for this remodeling has already commenced with the advertisement  for the construction of a new terminal building for  Akanu Ibiam International airport ,  Enugu and Mallam Aminu Kano  International Airport, Kano terminal building, respectively,” said FAAN in the statement.

Meanwhile, the federal government has, through Aviation Minister, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze, thanked Nigerians for the patience and understanding they exhibited throughout the closure of the airport for rehabilitation of the runway.

The minister also extended government’s appreciation to Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State for his support towards the successful completion of the project.

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