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The Anambra State airport, rebranded as the Chinua Achebe International Cargo Airport, marks two years of operation, boasting a noteworthy accomplishment of 260,000 passengers and over 4,000 flights within this time frame.
During a ceremony held yesterday to commemorate the anniversary, numerous sons and daughters of Anambra who attended the event applauded the decision to construct the airport, recognizing it as one of the successful state airports in the country.
Martins Nwafor, the Managing Director and CEO of the airport, noted that the throughput achieved is something many airports in Nigeria have not experienced in the last five years.
He noted that the Anambra airport has not only met the expectations of the people but has also filled a vital gap, making it convenient for people to board flights within their state.
According to Nwafor, the state government plans to host a celebration in honor of naming the airport after Chinua Achebe, the late erudite scholar, and writer who hailed from the state.
He said as the yuletide was approaching, the airport was prepared for the upsurge of passengers and holiday makers that would return to the State, disclosing that the airlines that already operate to the airport would increase their frequency and capacity to the airport.
‘We hope to operate to near capacity. Already Air Peace and United Nigeria Airlines are operating to the airport.’
‘The airport has the approval from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to operate mid-size aircraft, Boeing 737 or its equivalent to the airport. Air Peace is already operating its Boeing 737 and Embraer E195-E2; while United Nigeria is operating its ERJ 145, but the airline may likely bring in its Airbus A320 during the festive period.’
‘We have also prepared the airport for better service. We have realigned our Instrument Landing System (ILS) and Voice Ominidirectional Radio Range (VOR).’
‘We are working on getting our runway light. We have also spoken with NAMA to calibrate the landing aids at the airport and we scheduled this will happen next week,’ he said.
The Managing Director also complained about the charges by government agencies: the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), saying that what they charge the airport to provide their services was exorbitant.
He disclosed that FAAN charges the airport N8 million monthly; NAMA – N6 million and NIMET, N2, 250, 000 – saying it was difficult for the airport to expend such charges and still remain in business and called for the review of the charges by the said agencies.
According to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulation, monopoly services are mandated for exclusive provision by federal government agencies, covering security, weather reports, and aerodrome and traffic control charges.
‘How on earth will the airport generate money to be paying for these services every month? I am calling them to review these charges.’
‘This is why some airports built by states are handing over the facilities to the federal government for FAAN to manage them.’
‘FAAN already has huge responsibility it is carrying, managing 26 airports. So, we urge the agencies to review these charges so that we will be able to pay them.’
‘FAAN is even supposed to come with its security equipment but such are provided by the airport and they still charge outrageous sum of N8 million per month,’ Nwafor lamented.