Air travellers who now connect Delta State and other adjoining cities via the Asaba International Airport have lauded the airport’s flight resumption. They said it has come to clear their years of nightmares
On 8 October, Air Peace Airlines, a leading domestic airline group began commercial flights into and out of the airport to meet air travellers’ needs. The airline announced its resumption of daily Lagos-Asaba-Lagos flights, and would soon add Abuja-Asaba-Abuja flights to the service.
Chris Iwarah, corporate manager of Air Peace, said since they suspended operations to Asaba airport, members of the flying public had inundated them with calls and appeals to return.
“We are, however, thankful that the Delta State Government had to intervene to give the airport a facelift. We have been assured that the airport is now safe to operate for members of the flying public wishing to travel to Asaba, Anambra and other connecting cities,” Iwarah said.
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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) recently upgraded the airport to Category 6 status after a successful completion of its 3.4km runway rehabilitation work.
NCAA approval now qualifies the airport to receive and dispatch large aircraft. This is a deviation from what has been on ground where the airport had been operating as an aerodrome since May 2015 when it was downgraded.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa sourced N5 billion loan to finish up work at the airport, which foundation stone was laid in May 2008 under the immediate past governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan’s administration. This brings total cost of the airport to N32 billion, as the previous administration said it spent N27 billion to build it.
First commercial flight landed there in March 2011. But NCAA soon discovered that the airport did not comply with some key safety and security standards, which forced it (NCAA) to downgrade it.
The NCAA said then the airport would only be allowed the operations of Dash 8-Q 400 aircraft or its equivalent until all the safety measures were guaranteed.
The Federal Government had said its decision followed futile attempts by the state government to understand the importance of safety at its airport, thus violating the compliance with safety standards as stipulated in the Nigerian Civil Aviation Rules, CARs Part 12.6.2 and 12.6.3 in respect of the airport runway and its associated facilities, as well as adequately trained personnel.
As the flight commenced on the said date, the chief pilot, Egonu Victor, a captain, expressed pleasure at the massive upgrade the airport had undergone, describing it as one of the best in the country. He said the upgrade would attract bigger aircraft to the airport soon.
Meanwhile, the state government says it would concession the airport next year. The modalities were still sketchy yet.