6th May, 2011
The Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar has been shut. The airport was closed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
FAAN has issued a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) informing airlines operating into Calabar Airport of the two-month closure to enable the authority carry out repair works on the runway.
Another reason the airport will remain shut for two months beginning from 5 May, 2011 may not be unconnected with ongoing aviation security beef up at the nationâ€™s airports following the killing of Osama bin Laden.
This, sources say, is in tandem with the Federal Government joining other nations of the world to tighten security at the nationâ€™s airports to avert any reprisal attack from the Islamic world or the al-Qaeda fundamentalists.
To ensure adequate security, Federal Executive Council, FEC, selected two airports out of six in the country including the Calabar airport for immediate upgrade as well as approved Bilateral Air Services Agreement [BASA] with Cameroun.
The Calabar airport is affected by that agreement since it is closer to Cameroun than any other airport in the country.
Public Relations Officer of th Airport, Mrs Iloanya Uyu told P.M.NEWS on telephone that fixing the runway is not a factor of the security beef up at airports in the country.
She said the security of the airport will continue to be a thing of concern to the management in view of its proximity to other neighbouring countries.
â€œOur airport is always secure; we do not need the killing of Osama bin Laden to fortify or secure our airport. We are always on red alert and the surfacing of the runway is just the normal routine maintenance of the airport.â€
Mrs. Uyu described the runway upgrade as necessary to enhance greater safety at the airport and appealed to users of the airport to exercise some patience until the project is completed.
Meanwhile Arik Air yesterday announced that it will be suspending flights to the airport till Thursday, 7 July 2011.
Arik Airâ€™s Vice President, Planning and Marketing, Mr. Bert van der Stege, said during the period of the closure, Arik Air will be using Akwa Ibom International Airport, Uyo as the alternate airport for its passengers going to Calabar.
â€”Emma Una/ Calabar & Simon Ateba