A Nigerian lawmaker and Deputy Minority Leader, House of Representatives representing Aninri/Awgu/Oji River Federal Constituency (Enugu), Hon. Toby Okechukwu has called on the Federal Government to immediately reopen the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, for ease of transport during the forthcoming festive period.
According to pmnewsnigeria.com the lawmaker also called on the government to reactivate the remaining air facilities to allow international flight operations.
The need to reopen the airport according to him becames expedient ahead of the Yuletide when Nigerians will like to come home from every part of the world.
He said in a statement in Abuja that multiple stopovers would expose people to more risks than a direct flight to their destinations in a time of pandemic.
The lawmaker said there was no economic wisdom in keeping the airport shut from international operations after investing over N10 billion to upgrade it.
“The Christmas and New Year are the periods when our international airports are most socially and economically relevant to both Nigerians at home and in Diaspora.
“The opportunity cost of keeping these airports shut from international operations can be quite high.
“It ranges from higher risk of contracting COVID-19 through multiple stopovers to the issues of more man-hours, security risks, and auto crashes associated with compelling more people than necessary to travel by roads,” he said.
The lawmaker urged the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) and the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), to take necessary steps to restore full international operations in such airports.
“The PTF and Ministry of Aviation should, therefore, do all that is necessary to ensure that this is achieved so that Nigerians will not have to suffer unnecessarily.
“Enough provisions has also been made in the budget; in any case, they can always approach the parliament, should they need more support, as we are always ready to assist,” he said.
However, Minister Of Aviation Sen. Hadi Sirika has said via his twitter handle that the airport might be opened before the end of the year. The Minister also revealed that Kano and Port Harcourt airports might likely be opened also.
“Hadi Sirika (@hadisirika) hat getwittert: We are working with Ministry of Health, CACOVID & The PTF to open Kano, Port Harcourt & possibly Enugu airports before the end of the year. Also Lufthansa, Air France/KLM has been given go ahead to resume. Qatar Airways is approved to start Abuja. Thank you for your patience”