By Gift Samuel
The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika,has on Tuesday reopened the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport(NAIA) Abuja a day earlier than scheduled,after successful completion of the airport’s runway rehabilitation.
The Airport which was initially shut down for maintenance on March 8, was scheduled to be reopened on April 19 and flights were moved to the Kaduna International Airport while the rehabilitation works lasted.
Sirika while addressing newsmen on Tuesday during the opening, said he decided to reopen the airport earlier since the runway rehabilitation had been completed on schedule, saying that it was not bad to open earlier.
He however noted that other works like the taxi way markings which are none critical routine are still on going and will continue, stressing that the safety critical matters have been dealt with.
According to him; “I just landed now on the same runway, the final exercise was this morning and the friction test was carried out and found that it meets international standard and the ICAO standard and recommended practices.
“The runway has been completed completely and is in perfect shape so the runway is safe, it’s good,it’s perfect and we thank all of you for bearing with us. We are not celebrating, we set out a target and we achieved it” he said.
He further commended Nigerians and air travelers for their resilience during the six weeks closure of the airport.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian earlier has taken the lead by landing its new Airbus A350 XWB on the rehabilitated runway and was welcomed with a water cannon as a sign of celebration.
When The Sight News spoke to some passengers who were on the Ethiopian Airline, they expressed excitement that the airport is back into use.
A passenger Ibrahim Dikko, said that it is a thing and a historic event that all Nigerians should be proud of, adding that it is a smooth transition and something to celebrate. He said; “We are very happy and I know the Minister, he is hard working so I am not surprised”.
Also, Ele Ikeh expressed happiness to be back, emphasizing that it is a lot more convenient. She said; “I never envisaged it will be opened, it is Nigeria but they should have done it in a shorter time”.
The Airport was closed for six weeks with a day short and is ready for use while further background maintenance will be ongoing for the next six months.