On August 24, the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) announced that it is closing Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu for the rehabilitation of its runways.
International flights run be Ethiopian Airlines have been redirected to Port Harcourt airport while domestic flights have been diverted to Owerri and Asaba airports.
The closure of the airport was as a result of the inspection report of underutilization by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), in September 2018. The report said there is lack of airfield lighting and approach light at the airport, and that has forced it to close by 6 pm daily.
And as such, the revenue generation for the Federal Government is being immobilized. If it continues that way, the airport will be operating at a loss, and will never be able to compete with other international airports in the country in generating revenue for the Federal Government.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, promised that the rehabilitation will be completed by December. It has been a month now, and work is yet to start at the airport.
The Akanu Ibiam airport is the only international airport in the Southeast, and its domestic wing’s advantage cuts across the five states.
The delay has been blamed on processes. The General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, said “as soon as the processes are concluded work will commence.” What she did not say is when the processes will be concluded. But it certainly appears that it will take longer than expected, which will cause a journey vacuum for Southeast travelers.
December is almost here, notable of its bubbling in trade and businesses. And most of them, businesses of Chinese and Dubai origin, transported through Ethiopian Airlines. The Akanu Ibiam International Airport makes it easier for people to connect to their different markets in the Southeast and at a cheaper cost.
The suspension of domestic flights also means that those whose destinations are Enugu or Ebonyi will have to touch down at Owerri, Port Harcourt or Asaba.
The road trip distance and time will kill the essence of the flight. A lot of travelers are choosing road trips because they feel it’s almost the same. That reduces the number of flyers in the face of dwindling patronage. It was a struggle, and still is, to get airlines, especially international, to ply the Enugu airport. And people are concerned that the delay in the rehabilitation project will harm the prospect of increased airline activity in the Southeast.