Umueri Airport, Anambra State, will not begin as an international airport for now but will gradually grow into one.
It is also unlikely that the airport will be commissioned this April as previously announced by Gov. Willie Obiano.
These facts came to light as a State Government spokesperson dismissed social media claims that federal authorities thumbed down a request to designate Umueri as an international airport.
Information Commissioner, Chief C. Don Adinuba, however reiterated in a statement that “Anambra International Cargo/Passenger Airport remains an international airport.”
Adinuba explained that airport operations will be restricted to domestic flights at the outset but will gradually move up to higher status.
“Like any other airport in the world, it will start with local operations, add regional operations later, and finally international flights.”
The Aviation Ministry, accused of authorizing the downgrade, kept mum as controversy raged, further lending weight to the claims.
Adinuba accused political opponents of sponsoring the downgrade report which he described as “false, misleading and mischievous.”
Their aim, he said, is to drive a wedge between Anambra and Aviation authorities on the project. He said their calculation is that this would stall the “first flight scheduled to land at the airport on 30 April, which is a few days away”
The statement also indicated that the airport may not be ready for commissioning in April 2021 as hitherto promised by the State Governor.
“It will be commissioned at the appropriate time this year,” he said.
Governor Willie Obiano had assured federal authorities that he will launch the airport project without fail this month of April 2021.
During his visit to President Buhari on 5 October 2020, the Governor met with Aviation Minister where he broke the news.
Obiano had informed the Minister that the decision to embark on the airport project was informed by the need to cater to the economic interests of the state and its environs.