Gov. Willie Obiano’s signature project, Anambra Airport Umueri, opens with excitement as aircrafts on test flights landed yesterday, 30 April 2021.
Hundreds watched as an Airpeace aircraft and other private jets pierced the heavens to glide down the airport tarmac constructed by Anambra State Government.
The successful landing of a commercial airliner signals imminent commencement of business from this virgin land transformed within 15 months.
The State Government had hitherto announced that the Umueri Airport will host both international cargo and passenger flights.
A recent controversy swirled around whether the facility will be approved by federal authorities for international flights.
The authorities have remained tight-lipped but a State Government spokesperson said there will be a gradual progression to international operations.
Expectations were quite high yesterday as this solo flight signals imminent and historical commencement of air services from Anambra State.
The airport project is also a milestone for the Obiano administration which mobilised excited citizens to witness the maiden flight.
The facility will however be taken over by federal agencies which have the mandate to manage airport operations.
For others watching the spectacle, a feeling of deja vu pervades the air as another South East “international” airport opens.
Umueri is the third in the South East designed for international operations, after Enugu and Owerri airports
Enugu Airport has so far been approved as an international passenger airport while Owerri is approved only for cargo flights.
The Anambra Airport at Umueri is however built for both passenger and cargo operations, officials said.
Intetestingly, Governors of the remaining two South East States, Abia and Ebonyi, have also commenced construction of international airports.
A few prominent citizens have wondered why each of the South East States needed an airport of its own when they all are one hour from existing airports at Enugu, Port Harcourt, Asaba and Owerri.
A former Minister of Aviation was among those who opposed the Anambra Airport as a prestige project.
“It shows lack of a coordinated development strategy in the South East,” an aviation expert from Anambra said yesterday.
‘Anambra Airport is the best’
State Government spokesperson, Chief C. Don Adinuba, maintained that the Anambra Airports beats most other airports in Nigeria.
“Its facilities are strong and built to global standards.
“The facilities are big enough to accommodate the biggest aircraft in the world.
“The runway is 5.7 kilometres in length and 60 metres in width, the longest and the largest throughout Africa.
“Its facilities are the most modern in the whole country, and such pieces of equipment as the fire trucks rank among the most modern in the world.
“It is the only airport in Nigeria with satellite landing instruments. The implication is that planes can land there any time of the day or night.”
Adinuba also said the airport will be completed without the State borrowing from any bank “at a time of acute global economic crisis.”