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FG Downgrades Asaba Airport Over Safety Concerns

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The federal government has downgraded the Asaba Airport following the failure of the relevant authorities to adhere strictly with safety guidelines.

A statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by the assistant director, Press and Public Affairs, ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu, announced the immediate downgrade of the airport.

With the development, flight operations at the airport will be limited to certain categories of aircraft.

The statement read in part: “With the downgrading which takes immediate effect, the airport would now be allowed to accommodate the operation of only Dash 8-Q 400 aircraft or its equivalent until all the safety issues are addressed.

It said further that it had become a matter of serious concern “that despite a series of meetings with, and assurances given by the operators of the airport, the Delta State government, no concrete steps have been taken to address the issues which are capable of compromising the safety of flight operations and, of course, the passengers.”

The statement added that the federal government had consistently drawn the attention of the owners of the airport to the fact that it had, through its inability to address the issues, violated safety standards as stipulated in the Nigeria CARs Part 12.6.2 and 12.6.3 in respect of the airport runway and its associated facilities as well as adequately trained personnel.

It was gathered that the government through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, had raised several safety concerns over the numerous ditches on the airport’s runway, the lack of the required strip, perimeter fencing, drainage problems, and lack of adequately trained technical personnel.

The statement, however, quoted the minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, as saying that the downgrading was not intended to bring the airport to disrepute but to protect the interest of the public.

“The downgrading has been carried out in the public interest because the federal government places very high premium on the safety and security of aviation passengers and would never compromise set standards for whatever reason,” Chidoka stated.

He said the airport would be granted its previous status as soon as all safety issues are tackled satisfactorily.

The airport is owned by the Delta State government.

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