The Nigerian government has indicated plans to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu from its international status to a local airport following safety concerns from airlines.
Hadi Sirik, the minister of state for aviation, who stated this at a Stakeholders Forum held in Lagos on Friday, May 17, 2019, also said the government was also considering a temporary shutdown of the Enugu Airport to address safety challenges raised by airline operators flying into the airport.
“We have issues with the Enugu Airport and we may downgrade Enugu Airport in terms of international status and I have discussed it with the federal government,” said Mr. Sirika, who is a member of the Federal Executive Council and is, in fact, the ‘federal government’.
Sirika listed the major challenges hampering the smooth operation of the airport to include the poor state of the airport runway, the presence of a state radio mast on the flight path of airlines that threatens the safety of incoming aircraft, the siting of a Free Trade Zone at the end of the runway, as well as incessant bird strikes affecting airlines and occasioned by the presence of an abattoir at proximity to the airport.
Sirika said he had held discussions with the Enugu state Governor, Ifenyi Ugwanyi on the need to relocate the market, pull down the radio mast and relocate the Free Trade Zone in the interest of safety of aircraft and passengers.
“I am afraid that Enugu Airport might have to be closed down. I have told the governor that we have to move the market, FTZ, and take the radio mast away so that we can move in and fix things and clear the runway so that we can improve on safety and save lives,” he added.