NIGERIA: Absence Of Flights Persists At Bayelsa Airport Despite Govt Assurances

Commercial flights have not resumed at the Bayelsa International Airport despite the assurances given by the state government that the operating airlines, Ibom Air and United Nigeria Airlines (UNA), would return to the airport before the end of July 2022.

The Reporter gathered that there had been absence of flights at the aviation facility for several weeks, which fueled speculations that the state-owned airport had been downgraded.

But the state Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, explained on July 20 that the long lull at the airport was not the fault of the state government but caused by technical issues involving Ibom Air and UNA.

Ewhrudjakpo, who offered the clarification when the leadership of the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Bayelsa State Council, paid him a courtesy visit in Government House, Yenagoa, said the two airlines were carrying out D-Check on their aircrafts, which had hampered operations from their primary routes.

According to him, the D-Check is a major maintenance check to determine the air-worthiness of an aircraft after it had made commercial flights for a period of 10 years.

He, however, promised during the visit that “normal flight operations would resume at the airport before the end of the month (July)”, adding that the state government was in touch with the management teams of both airlines.

But checks on Wednesday by our correspondent showed that neither of the two airlines had resumed commercial flights at the airport, contrary to the assurances of the government.

When contacted, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Bayelsa International Airport, Mr Ken Ikputu, confirmed in a telephone chat with our correspondent that Ibom Air and UNA had not returned to the tarmac for business at the airport.

He explained that the problem was not caused by the airport but the airlines as they were carrying out routine D-Check on their aircrafts.

Ikputu, however, said that they were concluding the maintenance process and would resume commercial flights as soon as possible.

He said, “It’s not about the airport, but about the airlines. They are doing D-Check. If they are done with their routine check, they will resume. And I know that they are almost done.

“So far so good, Ibom Air is almost done. Immediately they confirm that the aircraft is good to go, they will resume.”

Asked when commercial flights would resume, he said, “I don’t know the specific time, but I know that it will not take long because they are almost done.”

While the UNA started commercial flight operations at the airport in August 2021, the Ibom Air commenced its flight operations in February 2022.



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