Ethiopian Airways says it will commence scheduled flight operation from the Port Harcourt International Airport as from Wednesday for its South East and South-South passengers following the decision of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to temporary shut down the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu for the repair of its runway.
Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the airline, Mr Mesfin Tasew, told journalists in Lagos that the diversion of Enugu flight to Port Harcourt would be sustained until the completion of repairs on the Enugu airport runway and its inauguration for use.
Tasew said Ethiopian Airlines was dedicated to serving the South East and South-South regional market, hence the decision to seek regulatory approvals from Nigeria to shift the Enugu flight to Port Harcourt airport.
The shutdown of the Enugu airport comes following complaints by pilots and airline owners about the poor state of the runway which is plagued by several potholes that make the smooth landing of aircraft very challenging and risky.
Domestic flights into Enugu airport have also been diverted to the Sam Mbakwe Airport in Owerri, Imo State.
“We have planned to shift the Enugu flight to Port Harcourt and we will start operations on September 3, 2019. We will continue operating from the airport until the Enugu airport becomes ready. When Enugu is ready, we will go back to Enugu,” Tasaw said.
“Nigeria is the only African country where Ethiopian has opened four destinations – Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Enugu (now Port Harcourt). This demonstrates a strengthened bilateral relation between Ethiopian and Nigeria. We will make every effort to provide excellent service in Nigeria as well as across the continent to help our customers access our global network,” he added.
He further stated that the airline was supporting Nigerian carriers like Med-View and Arik Air with the maintenance of their aircraft.
According to him, an Arik’s Q400 aircraft is currently in Addis-Ababa for its mandatory C-check.
He said: “First of all, I will like to say that Ethiopian Airlines today has the largest MRO facility in Africa. We repair all Boeing models of aircraft except 747. We also repair the Airbus A350 aircraft, which is the newest Airbus aircraft and the Bombardier Q400 aircraft in Addis Ababa,” he added.