Ethiopian Airline's Airbus 350 plane was the first aircraft to land at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja after the airport opened for use 24 hours ahead of schedule.
The plane touched down at the airport at 12.10p.m. to mark the reopening of the facility after repair works were carried out on its ' dilapidated' runway for six weeks. Domestic and international flights will be diverted to Kaduna, 170 kilometres away.
The airport was closed completely for runway repairs on March 8 and was scheduled to open for regular traffic on April 19.
EthiopianAirline launched its first A350-900 Airbus on the London Heathrow route August last year. It has three of the plane in its fleet and awaits the delivery of nine more before 2019. Its Traffic and Sales Manager, Firiehiwot Mekonnen said the aircraft plied the Abuja route on its first day of operation from Addis Ababa and that it would remain on Abuja route.
The 313-capacity aircraft is one of the last aircraft manufactured by Airbus and also one of the latest acquisitions of the airline, according to Mekonnen.
A passenger, Mr Amlan Talukdar, who flew in from New Delhi, told newsmen that he was happy that he did not have to travel by road from Kaduna to Abuja.
Talukdar added that when he was taking off from New Delhi, India, what was on his mind was how to travel on road from Kaduna.He commended the Federal Government for its commitment towards transforming aviation sector.
"When I was about to travel to Nigeria from India, I was confused as to my destination but I am happy that my final destination is Abuja and not Kaduna," he said.
Another passenger, Mrs Henan Abdou said she flew with Ethiopian airlines from Addis Ababa, adding that it was a pleasant experience to have travelled on the aircraft.
"I am happy with the flight, it was smooth and convenient," she said.
The Abuja airport was shut for six weeks to enable Julius Berger to repair its failed runway while Abuja-bound air traffic was diverted to Kaduna during the period.
By the successful landing of the Ethiopian aircraft on Tuesday, the airport has officially been opened for flight operations.