By Tony Edike
ENUGU- FOUR days to the official commencement of international flights at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, billionaire businessman, Chief Arthur Eze, Tuesday, flew into Enugu airport from Senegal.
The aircraft marked No 5MPZE, which landed at the modernised airport at about 3.20pm direct from Senegal, became the first international aircraft to touch down at the airport after it was upgraded.
President Goodluck Jonathan gave approval for the upgrading of the airport to an international status two years ago and laid the foundation for the construction of the international wing early this year.
Although work on the project is still on going at the various sections of the airport, the Federal Ministry of Aviation has slated the official commencement of international flights from Enugu for Saturday with the Ethiopian airline billed to fly in and out of the coal city.
Speaking to Journalists after the four-hour flight from Senegal to Enugu, amid jubilation by residents who thronged the airport to catch a glimpse of the first international flight, Prince Eze praised President Jonathan for living up to his promise, stressing that the upgrading of the airport would boost the economy of the South East.
“Look at me, I flew from Senegal to Enugu for four hours non-stop. I don’t need to go to Lagos or Abuja to catch direct flight again to Europe or Senegal. I can now go from my house to any place of choice. It is a good thing and I thank God for the development. The people of the South East will live to enjoy this because it will grow our economy,” he said.
He said that Ndigbo had been clamouring for an international airport from the military era up to the Olusegun Obasanjo administration all no avail until few years ago when Jonathan came on board and approved the airport and backed the project with resources.
“I am the first beneficiary of this beautiful airport, I am grateful to Jonathan. Jonathan has saved the life of Igbo people by reducing their suffering. Right now Igbo people who are noted for traveling overseas for businesses can do so from their zone. Jonathan has demonstrated that he is a wonderful human being and God will continue to bless him”, Eze said.
He commended the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah for seeing to the realization of the airport.