Delta State Government has announced plans to upgrade the Asaba International Airport to a category 9 airport to enable it to receive bigger planes.
According to the Special Projects Director of the Airport, Mr Austin Ayemidejor, with activities at the airport at the near peak, it had become imperative to upgrade the airport to welcome bigger planes.
Mr Ayemidejor was speaking when the United Nigeria Airline aircraft, marked 5-BWZ, made its maiden flight to the airport over the weekend, bringing the number of airlines operating at the airport to five so far.
He said the government had also written to the Nigeria Airspace Management Authority, NAMA, to increase the operational hours of the facility to 11 pm.
“We intend to upgrade the airport to category 9, which will make it to have the capacity to receive Boeing 737 and Boeing 777. We have applied to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NAMA, for approval to enable us to operate beyond sunrise to sunset by extending operational hours to 11 pm.
“Once that is done, there will be more activities and it is important to let you know that this is the fifth airline that is operating at the Asaba Airport. Already we have Air peace, AZMAN, Aero, and Arik. United Nigeria is the fifth airline that is coming in,” Ayemidejor announced.
According to him, “The sixth airline ValueJet is likely to come in a couple of weeks and we have assurances from the Managing Director of Ibom Air that very shortly too they will start operations perhaps by the second week of March. So the level of activities here is very encouraging because the market is large, it’s very huge and so we need more airlines to operate here. We have lots of patronage from the Eastern part of the country particularly the Onitsha area, and then the other cities around Delta for purpose of patronage.”
On the non-functional Instrument Landing System, ILS, at the airport, Ayemidejor said the full components of the lights, the localisers, were all fully installed but were yet to be calibrated, adding that the calibration was interrupted with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, and assured that NAMA would come in again soon to finish up with the calibration.
“Once the ILS and the localisers are fully calibrated then it will become functional for the airlines to use them,” Ayemidejor stated.
Earlier, Captain of the Airline, Lawani Abubakar, expressed delight at the company’s foray into Asaba, promising that the airline would increase its operating frequency into the airport with time.
“It was fantastic and the airport is looking very promising because Asaba is a perfect place to fly into and we have good passenger figure, then we intend to increase the frequency with time.
“The runway is fine but the ILS is not serviceable at the moment, however, with full visibility the approach system they have now is good. The Asaba Airport is safe and we have perfect aircraft for our customers,” he said.
Delta to upgrade Asaba airport to category 9 as United Airline debut