The Nigeria Senate on Thursday stopped the move by the Federal Ministry of Aviation to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
The development followed a motion sponsored by Senator Victor Umeh, representing Anambra Central Senatorial district, saying that the Federal Ministry of Aviation has moved to downgrade the airport to domestic status.
“I am are aware of the threat by the Former Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, that the Akanu Ibiam International Airport would be downgraded because of what he considered as imminent dangers posed to air travellers by the presence of a nearby market.”
Other threats raised by the former Minister, which the lawmaker expressed concern were:
“Enugu state radio mast on the flight path of airlines that threatens the safety of incoming aircraft; an abattoir, which attracted large birds and exposed airplanes to bird strikes, the location of a free trade zone and the decrepit state of the runaway.”
Senator Umeh, however, appreciated the former Minister over his concern for safety of Air travellers, noting that the importance and the economic value of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, cannot be overemphasized.
“It is important to note that the upgrade of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport was not only historic but made South Easterners heave a sigh of relief, which also gave them a sense of belonging. Akanu Ibiam International Airport is the only International Airport in the entire South East of Nigeria.”
“The minister said the Airport has only one runway, which is in bad shape having been patched and lacks the second runway that should serve as an alternative in keeping with international standard.”
“The runway of the Airport awarded to PW PLC was carried out without internal drains, which is affecting the stability of the runway, making it to crack and develop portholes.”
In their separate contributions, Senators Shehu Sani, Jibrin Barau and Barnabas Gemade opposed the plan to downgrade the airport, saying that it was not in the interest of the country.
Shehu Sani said: “Akanu Ibom should not be downgraded, whatever transpired between the Federal Ministry of Aviation, FAAN, and Enugu State government should be resolved in the interest of the nation.”
He said, the Minister was interested in the airport and whatever should happen now is to reconstruct the runway.