Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Special Duties, Mr Okpolupum Etteh, disclosed while inspecting the new Airport Terminal under construction on Thursday that Ibom Airline will begin international flights within the sub region as soon as the aircrafts purchased for that purpose arrive in the state.
According to the commissioner, the government was hoping that the airport would translate to a hub for aviation operations in the region, with the completion of the maintenance, repair and overhaul section among other ongoing projects.
The commissioner stated that the new terminal with a sitting capacity of 1,000 is designed to process a minimum of one million passengers a year.
He said, “If not for COVID-19, we were looking at completing this project by December this year but now, we are looking at the middle of next year, there is nothing we can do. Even the roofing sheets, we are still expecting them from Turkey.
“But so far so good, we are very okay. But you know, even when you finish, you still need one or two months to test run all the electrical facilities before handing over.
“But there are some few things that we have here in the terminal that they don’t have at the terminal in Istanbul, Turkey. Virtually everything here is going to be automated, even the lifts, the escalators, that is what makes this building a smart building.”
The commisioner added, “The building is divided into two, one way is domestic, the other way is International.
“We have immigration, we have customs, we have duty free shops; everything you have in an international airport. The airport would soon begin the operations of international flights within the subregion once the aircrafts purchased for that purpose arrived the state.”
The commissioner explained that the airport building is not only for domestic operations. He said that the gocvernment is looking at it becoming a regional hub, that will create a lot of employment, and revenue for Akwa Ibom State Government.
In his own comment, the Project Manager, VKS Nigeria, Mr. Onur Uzel stated that the construction company handling the terminal building project blamed COVID-19 for the project’s delay.
He added that Turkey, where some of the materials for the construction were sourced from just eased restriction on movement occasioned by the pandemic.