The Asaba International Airport is considered by many as the flagship achievement of the Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s administration though in his humility and good nature, he believes bringing smiles to the faces of majority of Deltans through his free maternal and infant health care programme as well as the free education programme, gives him more satisfaction as a governor. To him, the airport is elitist. But be that as it may, the airport has turned out to be a pillar of his Delta Beyond Oil economic strategy as it has opened the state up to the outside world. The Asaba International Airport has become the pride of the state adjudged by Stella Oduah, former aviation minister, as one of the best in the country in terms of architecture and facilities. Built by ULO Consultants, an indigenous construction company, the airport was formally opened to flight operations about three years ago. Cynics at the commencement of the project, had written it off as a white elephant project; but today, it is a subject of admiration and living out the dream of building it.
With major airlines in the country, Arik Air and Aero Contractors, operating at the airport in addition to smaller aircrafts and chartered flights, Austin Ayemidejor, the Special Project Director, said traffic volume has increased tremendously. “Now Aero is connecting Asaba–Abuja–Kano, taking advantage of traders that are leaving Kano to Onitsha, and so, that’s a major market for them”. The airport also boasts of state-of-the-art equipment that guarantees air safety. With an expansive tarmac, Ayemidejor recalls that, “the last time we had a summit here in Asaba, we had about 12 to 13 aircrafts parking at the same time”. The runway, 3.4 kilometres, he says, “is built for a typical Boeing 747 aircraft. What this means that any aircraft that is coming into Nigeria through Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, can land in Asaba Airport”. He says the airport has facilities for safety and rescue operations, stating that “we don’t pray for any disaster, but we will be able to respond adequately”. The cargo section of the airport, Ayemidejor says, would be ready latest early next year. The ultimate goal of government, according to Chike Ogeah, Information Commissioner, is to make it “the hub for the export of agriculture produce out of the country”. For the Asaba International Airport therefore, the best is yet to come.
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