International flights have commenced in Kaduna International airport on Wednesday, as a result of the closure of Abuja international airport.
At exactly 11.40 am Ethiopian Airlines flight, Boeing 787, which arrived from China, enroute Addis Ababa landed in Kaduna airport with about 100 passengers, including Nigerians and foreigners.
It was gathered that around 1.30pm the airline later departed Kaduna airport for Dubai, through Addis Ababa.
Speaking on the development, the Minister of State for aviation, Hadi Sirika who was on ground to welcome the first international flight to Kaduna said, the coming of Ethiopian Airlines with a Dreamliner Boeing 787 aircraft was a signal that, Kaduna airport is good choice.
Sirika also expressed optimism that other international airlines who had earlier declined flying to Kaduna might now change their minds.
The Minister while commending the Ethiopian airlines and its government said Nigeria is using the current challenge of diversion of flights from Abuja to Kaduna to identify its friends.
According to him, “We have mixed feelings because we all know why we are in Kaduna because the runway in Abuja has failed due to neglect over the years. But we are happy because there is an alternative.
“There were quite a few doubting Thomases whether Kaduna can work, but Kaduna is working. We have a flight now from Ethiopian Airlines. We thank Ethiopian airlines for believing in us, for partnering with Nigeria in terms of needs.
“We thank President Muhammadu Buhari for also allowing us to do what we should do, to do our job and to be able to keep everyone safe within the industry of aviation and also to believe that we can do it and here we are doing it. Today signals the day one of this operation which will be for six weeks. I want to reiterate that it will be six weeks by the grace of God.
“I also want to use this opportunity to thank the government and good people of Kaduna State who have become helpful, supportive and also alive to their own responsibility. About a week ago, Acting President was here and thanked him for his support.
‘Things are working as planned. This is a big lesson for us that we should not abandon our duty post wherever we found ourselves, so that we will not go in the same situation in the other sector of Nigerian economy. And once you have race with an emergency, you should take it up and do the best you can to get out of it.
“We are here today and at the end of the six weeks, we are also going to be here to celebrate by the grace of God.
“This is a departure and arrival at a point where government and its agencies are alive to their responsibilities. This is the point we have reach in believing in ourselves and bringing necessary change and taking up the challenge and making things work. So, for me I think it is important because when things are going wrong, you don’t fold your arms and say it is impossible.
“I believe other foreign airlines like Luthtanza, Air France etc will come. They are probably regretting now and I pray they will respond also and start landing in Kaduna because Nigeria is identifying its friends in terms of need.
Meanwhile, one of the passengers who arrived Kaduna on board Ethiopian aircraft, Annah Gery, said it was fine, and landing in Kaduna was as convenient as landing in other international airports. “Its fine its convenient and I’m enjoying it. The landing was good just like any other airport around the globe.”
Another passenger who departed Kaduna with the Ethiopian Airlines flight to Dubai, Tunde Ibrahim expressed delight with the development, saying “for me, this is a good development. I live here in Kaduna, if not for this development, I would have had to travel to either Abuja or Lagos to travel to Dubai.”