* Offers to build ancillary facilities
By Codratus Godson
Turkish Airlines would begin international flights into Port Harcourt International Airport on Today, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, to boost return of international flights in the embattled international airport after some international airlines pulled out in the past couple of years.
Some of the airlines that pulled out had complained of drying passenger flow following insecurity that scared away high net worth passengers.
The enthusiasm over the coming of Turkish Airlines seemed dampened late last week when Air Peace crash-landed by missing the runway. The airline blamed on wet tracks and poor weather but authorities said they were investigating.
The airport remained shut for more than two days because the airplane that had a mishap blocked the runway, forcing flights to divert to either the Owerri airport in Imo State (two hours drive) or into the womb of Port Harcourt at the Air Force Military Base which often rescues the International Airport in Omagwa.
An elated governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, has however berated the federal government for allegedly refusing to allow his administration to rebuild the domestic terminal where the mishap took place, nor do it themselves. He has offered to build ancillary facilities such as access roads, lights, and VIP Lounge.
He said: “I will dualise the access road to the Airport from the Owerri Road Junction into the airport. I will also reconstruct the road leading to the VIP Lounge at the Airport. The State Government will also demolish the existing VIP Lounge and construct a befitting lounge. The new lounge will be a storey building. You have made these requests, which I have granted”.
Governor Wike said that in addition to dualising the access road to the airport, the Rivers State Government will install streetlights on the road.
New general manager, Felix Akinbinu, informed the governor that the maiden international flight of Turkish Airlines would land at the Port Harcourt International Airport on Tuesday, June 25, 2019.
He appealed to the Rivers State Governor to assist in the dualisation of the access road to the airport and the reconstruction of the VIP Lounge.
The manager informed that Port Harcourt and Kano International Airports are being positioned for aerodrome certification, adding that the airport requires the assistance of the Rivers State Government.
Wike stated that the state government will make critical interventions at the Port Harcourt International Airport to improve the international acceptance of the facility. He also expressed happiness that Turkish Airlines would commence international flights to the Port Harcourt International Airport.
Speaking on Monday during a courtesy visit by Felix Akinbinu the new General Manager of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for South-South and South-East Region at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Governor Wike said the Rivers State Government is committed to making the Port Harcourt International Airport the destination of choice in the country.
The governor called on the FG to complete the construction of the domestic terminal, saying; “In the beginning, I pleaded that I be allowed to intervene in the completion of the local terminal of the airport, but they declined because of politics. Why can’t they complete the construction of the local terminal? Is it because it is Rivers State?”, he said.
He urged the authorities to forget political considerations and complete the local terminal in the interest of Rivers people and other users of the facility.