The Akanu Ibiam International Airport yesterday played host to the first international flight when a private jet, with registration number 5MPZE, belonging to Anambra-born billionaire businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, flew in direct from Senegal. The plane landed at the airport at exactly 3pm.
This is coming four days before the first Ethiopian Airline flight is expected to land and depart from the airport on Saturday, August 24. Fielding questions from newsmen shortly after touching down at the airport and passing through immigrations, Prince Eze said his trip started from Europe to Senegal, from where he flew directly to Enugu.
He said: “Thanks to the president. This is the first time this is happening to the people of the South-East. Other presidents before him came here and promised us an international airport, but it never came to be, but today we are happy that President Goodluck Jonathan has made this dream of our people come true.
“We are grateful to Jonathan that he is changing the lives of Igbo; we also commend the efforts of the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah. This is the greatest thing that has happened to our people.
“I am the greatest beneficiary. I flew from Europe to Senegal and from Senegal, I flew direct to this airport. The flight from Senegal to Enugu took us four hours, non-stop and we were flying at about 45, 000 feet above sea level. I am happy and grateful to God.
“Before, I used to travel to Lagos, Port Harcourt, avoiding robbers on the road, to fly outside the country, but now, from my house here, I can fly to any part of the world. Jonathan is a wonderful human being; God created him to serve humanity.”
Prince Eze noted that the airport would improve the economic well being of the South-East, stating: “Our people are businessmen and we travel a lot. This airport is a major boost to our businesses and you can be sure that a lot is going to improve in this zone.”
He noted that by the time the airport is formally opened on Saturday, August 24, “when an Ethiopian aircraft is expected to land, economic activities will begin to boom in the whole eastern Nigeria. It will turn things around in this part of the world.”
He expressed optimism that other international airlines would soon start operation at the airport. “Very soon British Airline and other leading airlines in the world will start landing here; it is wonderful and all Igbo must be grateful to the president for this gesture.”