Regular international flights and an inland container terminal will help the Kaduna economy overcome the disadvantage of not being close to a seaport, Kaduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the inauguration of Ethiopian Airlines regular flights from Kaduna, the governor expressed gratitude to all the stakeholders that made it possible. Leading senior government officials at the celebration of the inaugural flight, Mr. El-Rufai said that the federal government trusted the state to host flights while Abuja Airport was closed, and that Ethiopian Airlines demonstrated confidence and solidarity by agreeing to Kaduna flights during the period.
The governor promised that the Kaduna State government will support Ethiopian Airlines to make the Kaduna-Addis Ababa flights successful. In a symbolic mark of support, Mr. El-Rufai personally led a team of state government officials to board the inaugural flight.
Following the celebrations, the Kaduna State Government issued a formal statement, welcoming the beginning of regular international flights.
"The Kaduna State Government welcomes with delight the commencement today, 1st August 2017, of regular international flights from the Kaduna International Airport. The government appreciates and recognizes the profound statement of confidence Ethiopian Airlines is demonstrating in the prospects and viability of Kaduna.
"The flight of Ethiopian Airlines from Kaduna to Addis Ababa today marks another step in the steady insertion of Kaduna into the global economy. With this direct flight from Kaduna, and the imminent start of operations at the inland container terminal, Kaduna is being upgraded to a port city despite its considerable distance from the nearest ocean. International travel for business people and the ability to export and import cargo with little hitch are being considerably enhanced.
"This is giving considerable boost to the state government's strategy to anchor growth and development on attracting investments to create jobs, increase internally generated revenues and empower people. The investment strategy is receiving emphatic support with investment inflows above $ 300 million in two years amidst two very successful investment summits.
"Kaduna State has within two years successfully reversed the fortunes of the Kaduna Airport which had for too long punched below its weight, both in terms of facilities and flight availability. Since 2015, the government led by Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has worked to improve this, engaging with federal aviation authorities and airline managers to persuade them to start or increase flights to Kaduna.
"We thank the Federal Government for supporting Kaduna Airport to move closer to its potentials. The federal and state governments made investments to ready the Kaduna Airport to serve as alternative destination during the six-week closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. Regular local and international flights are ensuring that those investments generate multipliers.
"Kaduna is a major road transport hub, agriculture power house and home to many educational institutions. The state is also working to boost the formal exploitation of its solid minerals endowments, revive its textiles legacy and become a hub for ICT.
"Regular flights from Kaduna offer passengers from across the North-West zone a nearer alternative to Abuja.
"The State Government will continue to engage aviation stakeholders to ensure that more local and international flights come to Kaduna."