Akwa Ibom airport begins international operations with 215 pilgrims to Jerusalem
Two years after it was built, the Ibom International Airport, Uyo, own by the Akwa Ibom State government has started international operation with the air lifting of Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem.
Sky Airlines at the weekend flagged off the flight operation with a Boeing 737-900 aircraft where the first batch of 215 pilgrims were flown to Jerusalem out of the over 1,000 designated to be flown out through the airport within the next two weeks.
Head, public affairs of the airport, Mmek- Abasi Akpabio, explained that the feat by the airport and the state government was historic given the support the project enjoyed by the state Governor, Obong Godswill Akpabio.
He explained that with the upgrading of the airport, direct air lift of Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem can go on without any hitch.
The Managing Director and chief executive officer of Ibom Airport Development Company (IADC), Managers of AKIA, Captain Jari Williams confirmed that the facility had been primed to undertake a
24-hour operation having secured all the approvals from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the purpose.
“All the safety intervals have been achieved,” he said.
He however disclosed that: " The Akwa Ibom International Airport will only be open up to 9 pm throughout this pilgrimage operation because our Area control in Calabar closes by 9 pm daily.”
On how the airport was able to handle the international operations of this magnitude in less than two months of notification and request from the Nigerian Christian pilgrims welfare Board through the Akwa Ibom State branch of the body, Captain Williams attributed the success to the unflinching support of the state governor who according to him, had been “more than a pillar” for the company.
He also thanked the Airport Implementation Committee led by Air cdre Idongesit Nkanga (rtd) and Engr. Etido Inyang together with the supervising Ministry of Special Duties led by Enobong Umoetuk for their unqualified commitment to the success of the operations.
“The management greatly depended on these great minds to make it happen”, Captain Williams said.
AKIA has witnessed phenomenal growth in about the last one year. Some of the very significant milestones recorded by the airport within the period include; launching the historic inaugural flight into the facility, commencement of commercial flight operations to the airport by Arik Air followed by Dana Air and Aero contractors Airline. Others include construction of automated gate, production and securing approval for airport operational manual, formal commissioning of the first phase of the facility by Mr. President and undergoing comprehensive calibration by Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), and the recent upgrade of the Airport from visual flight rule(VFR) operations to instrument flight rule (IFR) operations.