The Delta State government has said that plans were underway to upgrade the Asaba International Airport to a Category 9 airport to enable it to receive bigger planes.
Special projects director of the Airport, Austin Ayemidejor, disclosed this to journalists shortly after the arrival of United Nigeria Airline‘s maiden flight to Asaba on Friday.
The airline marked 5N-BWZ, which was fully booked with passengers, touched down at exactly 11.40 am
Ayemidejor said with activities at the airport at the near peak, it had become imperative to upgrade the airport to welcome bigger planes.
He said the government had also written to the appropriate authority to increase the operational hours to 11 pm.
“We intend to upgrade the airport to Category 9 which will make it have the capacity to receive Boeing 737 and Boeing 777, but shortly we have applied to Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority 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 into the Asaba airport.
“Already we have AirPeace, AZMAN, Aero, and Arik. United Nigeria is the fifth airline that is coming in.
“The sixth airline Value Jet 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,” he said.
On the non-operationalisation of the Instrument Landing System (ILS), Ayemidejor said the full components of the lights, the localisers were all fully installed but were yet to be calibrated.
He said the calibration was interrupted with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, adding that NAMA will 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 companies foray into Asaba.
He said the airline will increase its operational frequency into the airport with time.
“It was fantastic and the Airport is looking very very promising because Asaba is a very good place to fly into and we have good passenger figure and 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 very good aircraft for our customers,” he said.