Forty four days after flights were diverted to pave way for its runway repairs, airlines are ecstatic to resume operations at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport ( NNIA), Abuja on Wednesday April 19, 2017.
The euphoria among the carriers investigations reveal followed the mixed feelings that trailed their operations for six weeks, when Kaduna Airport was used as alternate aerodrome.
Apart from low passenger traffic, increasing costs of operations, logistic challenges, operations at Kaduna Airport, it was learnt was not savoury for airlines.
Only yesterday airlines including: Air Peace, Medview Airlines, DANA Air and Ethiopian Airlines released their schedule of flights into and out of Abuja Airport.
While commending government for keeping up to the timeline for the completion of the Abuja Airport runway repairs, the carriers also commended passengers for their patience, patronage and understanding.
Medview said it will operate six daily flights to the nation’s capital.
In a statement by the Chief Operating Officer/Accountable Manager (COO/AM), Engineer Lookman ANIMASHAUN said besides the six daily flights, the flights to YOLA, KANO and Maiduguri will now be routed through Abuja, which has been the practice.
ANIMASHAUN revealed the closure of Abuja Airport brought out the potentials of Kaduna International Airport making the airline to operate daily flight as against the three weekly flights.
“Kaduna has a lot of potentials, hence we decided to maintain daily presence there”, the COO said.
On its part, DANA Air said it will operate five daily flights into Abuja.
The Accountable Manager of Dana Air, Mr Obi Mbanuzuo said:” We will commence flights to Abuja on Wednesday and will operate five daily flights from Lagos to Abuja.”
Obi urged Dana Air’s teeming passengers to take advantage of its low fares and numerous customer- centric services like the self service kiosk at MMA2, pocket –friendly cab services in Abuja for Dana Miles Guests, ongoing discounts for Youth Corp members and lots more.
Air Peace on its part, also announced its flight schedule on the Abuja route.
A statement issued by the carrier’s Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Chris Iwarah commended air travelers for keeping faith with the airline and making a huge sacrifice to ensure repair of the bad portions of the runway of the Abuja airport.
The airline also praised the Federal Government and the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika for ensuring speedy completion of the repair work on the runway of the facility.
He said: “We are pleased to announce resumption of all our flights into and out of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport with effect from Wednesday, April 19, 2017.
“The Federal Government shut the facility to traffic on March 8 to enable a six-week repair of its runway and diverted all Abuja-bound flights to the Kaduna International Airport.
“We considered the decision of the Federal Government to shut down the airport for quick repair of its runway in tandem with the high safety standards of our flight operations. At Air Peace, the safety our esteemed guests is our first rule of business. We do not compromise on that for any reason.
“Although the decision to shut the facility to traffic came with huge costs, for us, nothing compares with safety. We are also aware that our numerous guests and the entire travelling public had to make a lot of sacrifice to enable the repair of the runway possible and wish to commend them for their understanding and cooperation.
“We also wish to express our sincere gratitude to the the Federal Government, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika and the contractors for delivering on their promise to ensure completion of the repairs within schedule. The repair of the runway has further intensified our enthusiasm to deliver the best flight experience to our valued guests in a very safe atmosphere.
“Our Abuja schedules are live once again and we promise to give the best of air travel services as we resume our flight operations in the Federal Capital Territory,” Air Peace said.
Ethiopian Airlines has also announced the resumption of its flight to Abuja Airport with its latest technology and the most modern Airplane in the world, the Airbus A350-900 for the first time.
The airline said the state of the art airplane will start the scheduled service on the Addis Ababa Abuja route, thereby gracing the reopening of Abuja Airport.
Commenting on this move, Ethiopian group CEO, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, said; “As a veteran Pan African airline, it has always been our source of pride to connect our beloved continent Africa together and beyond. Our presence in Nigeria dates back to the 1960’s, same time the Federal Republic of Nigeria got independence from foreign colonization.
“We have always given our best to Nigeria at all times, both at good and challenging times, and we have been part of Nigeria’s historic growth and always consider ourselves as vital partners in the history and growth of Nigeria as a country.
“The A350 is yet one of the landmarks in our 70 years proud history; providing exceptional levels of luxury and reliability for a totally unique passenger experience.
“Hence, with the reopening of Abuja Airport, the extra features of our game changing fleet, Airbus A350, will be awaiting for our esteemed Nigerian travellers. We shall continue to avail critical air connectivity options and connect African countries together and far beyond.”
Ethiopian currently operates 20 weekly flights to four Nigerian cities; Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and Kano; offering hassle free connectivity to its worldwide network spread in five continents