A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) aircraft has made its maiden touch-down at the new Bayelsa International Airport built by the outgoing administration in the state.
Speaking after alighting from the Beechcraft plane marked NAF 204, which conveyed him to the facility, the Air Officer Commanding Mobility Command in Yenagoa, Air Vice Marshal Ibukun Ojeyemi, described the facilities at the airport as world standard.
He explained that the Air Force would utilise it for its operations pending its clearance for civil and commercial operations, noting that the facility would also enhance security of the area, the state and the Niger Delta in general.
The Air chief, however, dismissed the insinuation in some quarters that the state government had ceded the airport to the Air Force, saying that was not true.
He explained that the state governor only granted approval to the Air Force for its operations and to enhance the security of the air
“This airport is an excellent facility and the runway is very good. It can take bigger aircraft like the 747s.
“The flight was very smooth and hitch-free and was to see how the Nigeria Air Force can effectively put the facility to use towards enhancing our operations in the state. This maiden flight is to see how we can effectively use the airport for our activities in the state.
“The facilities here are of international standard. The 3.5 kilometre runway, terminal building, safety equipment and every other facility here are up to standard.
“Our command will utilise this airport for our operations in order to enhance security in the state and the Niger Delta. We are grateful to the state and the governor for allowing us use of this airport, which is of international standard.
“That however does not mean that the facility has been ceded to the Air Force, to answer your question. That speculation is not true,” he said.
Ojeyemi added that the project would not only enhance the status of Bayelsa State, but also improve its socio-economic activities and that of the entire South-south zone.
He said the Nigeria Air Force was delighted to embark on the maiden flight and was eagerly looking forward to more flights to the airport with or without the operational licence.
Also in her remarks, the Airport Manager, Mrs. Elizabeth Akpama, urged the federal government to approve and issue the airport’s operational licence without delay.
She noted that the airport, which she described as one of its kind with the longest runway in the South-south states, would boost the economy of the state and the region when it becomes fully operational.
“To the best of my knowledge, the airport is good to go. The 3.5 kilometre runway is superb. It is up to standard and you heard the Air Force officer saying that the maiden flight was without any problems. He has said that everything he has inspected so far is okay.
“My call to the federal government is to give us a waiver so that we can start flight operations. All the major things have been done according to standard. As far as I’m concerned, the airport is good to go and commercial flights should be allowed.
“Bayelsans are waiting patiently for this permit to be given to the state airport. It is going to be a plus economically and socially for the state,” she said.
The airport is yet to commence commercial flight operations pending the mandatory certification by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
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