31 August 2012

Nigeria: Aviation Minister Denies Stopping Airlines From Flying Into Abuja

Lagos — The Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, has denied reports that she prevented Emirates, Etihad and Turkish Airlines from operating from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.

The minister's media assistant, Mr. Joe Obi, in a statement said, "There is no truth whatsoever in that publication as the minister did not at any time prevent the said airlines from flying to Abuja and Kano.

On the contrary, the minister has been an advocate of allowing all international airports in the country to operate direct flights. Emirates Airline has never applied for permit to operate into either Abuja or Kano international airports.

Anyone, including the airline concerned with contrary documentation should please make such available to the public. Etihad, that was supposed to commence operations from Abuja in line with an old MOU of 2003 with the UAE, refused to do so, insisting on flying from Lagos, thereby necessitating an amendment of the MOU in 2012 to accommodate their desire.

Turkish Airline applied to operate into Abuja and Kano, an application which the minister approved without any hesitation. In fact, IRS Airlines was nominated on the 1st of August 2012 to work with Turkish Airline in this regard. In view of the foregoing, we make haste to declare that we have no records anywhere indicating that the Aviation minister stopped any airline from operating into Abuja and Kano or forced any one to operate from the Enugu International Airport. The minister has also been making efforts to convince KLM, which earlier stopped its operation to continue flying into the Kano airport".

Obi, who lamented that some commentators are insinuating ethnic agenda over the purported directive to force some airlines to fly into Enugu rather than Abuja or/and Kano, noted that the first tangible project embarked upon by the current aviation minister upon her appointment was the rehabilitation of the Kano and Kaduna Hajj terminals.

"Moreover, out of the 11 airports currently being reconstructed and remodelled simultaneously across the country, five are domiciled in the northern part of the country. The 11 airports include MMIA and GAT Lagos, Port Harcourt, Benin, Enugu, Owerri, Calabar, Abuja ,Kano, Kaduna, Yola and Jos airports. Therefore, it is clearly inappropriate to insinuate that the aviation minister is anti-north," he added.

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