By Chimezie Anaso
Awka, Dec. 7, 2023
The management of Chinua Achebe Airport, Umueri, near Onitsha in Anambra, on Thursday celebrated the second year of the commencement of commercial operations at the facility with notable passengers joining in the anniversary.
Some of the passengers who ran into the brief ceremony were His Eminence, Peter Cardinal Okpalaeke, the Catholic Bishop of Ekwulobia, Mr. Peter Obi former governor of Anambra and Senator Uche Ekwunife.
Cardinal Okpalaeke said the prayer before the cutting of the anniversary cake while Obi joined the management of the airport and other travelers in the photograph session.
“Oh, we are in a celebration mood, this is excellent, I wish you all the best,” Obi said.
On her part, Sen. Uche Ekwunife said it was exciting that although Chinua Achebe Airport had clocked two years, there was still a large room for improvement.
Ekwunife commended former Gov. Willie Obiano for delivering the project to the people of Anambra and tasked the current and subsequent administrations to build on the existing facility to ensure it attained world standard.
According to her, “This is not just an airport but one of the best in Nigeria. If you consider the number of passengers that have passed through this place, you can imagine the impact it is having on the economy of the state.
“However, the airport still needs improvement to get to world standard. Rome was not built in a day,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr. Dozie Anigbogu, a passenger, said having a functional airport was a thing of pride to Anambra people who no longer had to go to Asaba or Enugu to access air transport services.
Anigbogu, who rated the quality of services at the airport as satisfactory, called on airline operators to improve their announcement and communicate effectively to passengers.
According to him, “about 95 per cent of passengers using this airport are Igbo, so why are they talking to us in phonetics?
“I hardly hear what they are saying and they should keep their speakers in places where we can hear them, we hardly make sense out of what they say.
“The airport is a work in progress, I am proud of the success so far,” he said.
Mrs Patricia Igwebuike, Commissioner for Transport, said the airport was already competing favorably with its peers in spite its young status.
Igwebuike said Gov. Chukwuma Soludo was working to improve the facility as it resonates with its policy to build an export emporium.
She said aviation was an international business which thrived with good partnership, adding that the government was working with private partners to develop the cargo section of the airport.
On the upgrade of infrastructure, the commissioner said the airport is provided for in the budget and that her ministry and the ministry of works would help to access it as appropriate.
“I want to rate the airport as A+ because we are young, the people are happy with us and we are doing our best to make the airport user friendly,” she said.
Mr Martins Nwafor, the Managing Director, said the Airport management had worked to make the airport a travelers’ delight notwithstanding challenges.
Nwafor said during the 24 months of airport operations, no fewer than 250,000 passengers had passed through the facility in 4,000 flights.
He assured travelers of improved services as it entered another year while assuring travelers that the airport was ready for excellent delivery during the yuletide.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the China Achebe International Airport, formerly Anambra International Airport, was opened for commercial operations on Dec. 7, 2021.