‘Enugu Airport Closure Will Hurt Economic Activities in S/East’ - THISDAY
The Chairman of House Committee on Aviation Hon. Nnolim Nnaji, has expressed concern over the planned closure of Enugu Airport, saying it will have adverse effect on the socio economy of the South-east.
Nnaji, regretted that the closure was coming at a time travelling by road in region has become a nightmare due to the prevailing security challenges. He, however, stressed that his committee would work assiduously with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to ensure that the repair works are completed within the stipulated time.
Nnaji, however, called on the federal government to come up with special grants to Enugu State Government to enable it cope with the increased demand for security and maintenance of roads that would serve the diverted traffic from the Enugu airport.
He, equally appealed to the Ministry of Works to ensure that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) was adequately mobilised to carry out some urgent repair works on the various access roads between Enugu and alternate airports that would serve Enugu Traffic during the period.
He said he was not happy that the Enugu airport runway collapsed within six years of its re-construction but assured that his committee would raise questions on the matter very soon.
“By my investigation, a standard runway should have a life span of thirty years so if that runway could collapse under six years some people have to give us explanations.
“The country is going through some difficult times economically and there are so many things contesting for the scarce resources so we cannot afford to have huge tax payers’ money go down the drains just like that,” he said.
He stated that if in the course of the findings, the House discovers that the contractor did a shoddy job on the collapsed run- way, it will not go scot-free. Nnaji, who represents Nkanu East/ West in the House of Representatives further assured that his committee would not witch hunt anyone but stressed that it would strive to ensure that the right things are done to keep the nation’s aviation sector is safe and reliable.
He further added that the house was prepared to work closely with the executive arm of the government to improve air travel in the country.
However, the Enugu airport runway has collapsed making its rehabilitation and airport closure inevitable.
…Hails Sirika’s Reappointment
The House Committee on Aviation has commended the reappointment of Senator Hadi Sirika as Minister of Aviation by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it was good for continuity
The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji said he expects the Minister to hit the ground running because he was already familiar with the terrains.
“There are so much to be done within a short time to prepare the industry for the challenges posed by the emerging African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), so we don’t need a new person that will require a lot of time to learn the ropes”, he said.
The lawmaker representing Nkanu East and West Federal Constituency, Enugu State also stated that he is happy the Minister was coming at the time the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) was commencing the reconstruction of the Enugu Airport runway.
He urged the Minister whom he said understood the problems associated with Enugu airport, to use his knowledge as a seasoned aviator to ensure that the right things were done immediately because of the importance of the airport to the South East.
“I am sure he will be interested in finding out how the Enugu airport runway failed within six years of commissioning and believe he will assist our committee in unraveling the circumstances that led to the collapse of the runway during our investigation,” Nnaji said.
While congratulating him on his reappointment, Nnaji equally assured him of the cooperation of his committee towards providing a safe, viable and reliable air transport industry for the country.
He stressed that he welcomed his new portfolio as a substantive Minister of Aviation, which according to him would enable the Minister to be focused solely on the aviation industry.
The aviation committee chairman further made case for adequate funding of the industry because of its strategic role in stimulating the economy of Nigeria.
Nnaji who expressed concern over the glaring dominance of foreign airlines on the nation’s major international routes said that the legislative arm of government would work closely with the executive arm of government to correct the imbalance.
Cathay CEO Resigns as Airline Limits Damage
Cathay Pacific’s chief executive and chief commercial officer have resigned as the Hong Kong airline attempts to extricate itself from the controversy over its attitude to staff taking part in city-wide democracy protests.
Airwise.com reported that the CEO Rupert Hogg and CCO Paul Loo resigned and take “responsibility as leaders of the company.” The airline said it is “the right time for new leadership to take Cathay Pacific forward.”
The resignations come after Cathay was forced to change its position on staff members taking part in the democracy protests that have become increasingly violent.
The airline initially tried to stay away from expressing views on staff protesters but after receiving explicit instructions from China via its Civil Aviation Administration, Cathay issued a statement “strongly supporting” the Hong Kong SAR government in their efforts to restore law and order.
The CAA said employees involved in the protests had to be suspended from operating flights on mainland China routes. Additionally, the airline has to inform the CAA of all staff members working on China flights, including those that fly over the country to other destinations.
Cathay chairman John Slosar in a statement said Hogg had executed an important three-year transformation process that provides a strong platform for the airline’s continued development.
“However, recent events have called into question Cathay Pacific’s commitment to flight safety and security and put our reputation and brand under pressure. This is regrettable as we have always made safety and security our highest priority. We therefore think it is time to put a new management team in place who can reset confidence and lead the airline to new heights.