NIGERIA – The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said the Akanu Ibiam International Airport runway in Enugu would be completed before Easter.

The minister, who inspected the reconstruction project on Thursday, said the runway would be reopened early enough for operations to travelers during the period.

Sirika stated that due to the strategic importance of the airport to the South-East region, the Federal Government carefully contracted the project to a reputable construction company, Messrs PW Limited.

He explained that the contractor had promised that the project would be completed before Easter.

According to the minister, the new international terminal being constructed at the airport will also be completed before the end of the year.

He said the Instrument Landing Systems, airfield lightning, taxi lights and other key deliverables were also part of the project that would be delivered.

The Federal Government had in August closed the runway of the airport for major repairs and work on the airfield.

Following the closure of the airport, international flights were diverted to the Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers while domestic flights were diverted to the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, the Port Harcourt Airport and the Asaba Airport in Delta.

Sirika tabled a request of US$27.59 million (N10 billion) before President Muhammadu Buhari for the repairs of the airport.

The money got approved and he promised that the airport would be delivered before Christmas.

However, the Minister pleaded for more time explaining that though the money requested was approved, the delay in disbursement meant that they had to push the date for completion to April.

Sirika had stated that some of the reasons for the closure included the airport’s bad runway and landing aids, and the presence of a market nearby which attracted birds that had led to constant bird strikes on aircraft.

The minister had also said the state radio mast was wrongly placed and was directly facing the runway.

The Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Mr Nnolim Nnaji, said the House would work with the Federal Government to ensure that the airport was completed and delivered on schedule.