NAHCO commemorates resumption of Ethiopian Airlines flights at Enugu airport

By Chinelo Obogo, Lagos

The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) held a stakeholder dinner at the weekend commemorating the resumption Ethiopian Airlines operations to Akanu Ibiam International Airport (AIIA) Enugu.

The flights, which resumed on October 9, was heralded with fanfare and NAHCO which handles ground handling operations for the airline, used the opportunity provided by the epoch-making event to engage major stakeholders in the station and drum up support for improved cargo volumes in the station.

Major key stakeholders in the aviation and cargo business facilitation chain, including representatives from the Enugu State Government, cargo agents, and the Organised Private Sector (OPS).

In his welcome remark, NAHCO Plc’s Group Executive Director, Business Development and Commercial, Prince Saheed Lasisi, thanked guests for responding to the company’s invitation even at a very short notice. He stated that the event was unique as it marked the fulfilment of NAHCO’s earlier promise to major cargo stakeholders in Enugu that the Company will work to bring back the airline to the station and all factors mitigating full patronage from agents will be eliminated. He said further that through strategic engagement, freight rates for Lagos and Enugu have been equalised as an incentive for agents within Enugu and environs to patronise the airport for their cargo operations.

He challenged cargo agents to reciprocate this gesture by re-routing their cargo operations through the AIIA for optimal utilisation of the frequencies the airline has earmarked for the station.

Responding, the Ethiopian Airlines Station Manager, Mr Henok Sirak, thanked NAHCO for hosting the event to mark its return to Enugu and for a productive business partnership. He stated that the management of the airline has approved a weekly three flight frequency for the station and pleaded that necessary effort be made to ensure good load factor for the station’s flights.

The Enugu Airport Manager, Mrs Cecilia Ogwuama thanked the airline for the decision to return to the airport and NAHCO’s efforts towards achieving this feat. She stated that the return will enhance operations and business activities at the airport. As a means of supporting the operations, she informed guests that her office has commenced discussion with FAAN and received assurance that a cargo screening machine will be deployed to the airport before the end of October.

The representative of the Enugu State Government who is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Dr Godwin Anigbo, expressed the joy on the return of airline. He pledged Government’s continued support to the airport and people of the State to optimise the oppourtunities prevalent in the Ethiopian Airlines operations in the state.

On the part of the Organised Private Sector, the President Enugu Shippers Association, Sunday Ezeobiora, expressed delight on the return as it will positively impact the business of shippers in the state. He thanked Ethiopian Airline and NAHCO for the level playing ground achieved in terms of freight charges between Enugu and other locations in Nigeria stating that shippers will capitalise on this to increase business volume.

Speaking on behalf of cargo agents, the Managing Director, Direct Divine Cargo, Mr Ezeaku Onyeka, expressed gratitude for the role played by NAHCO in facilitating the gathering. He stated that with freight rate equalisation between Lagos and Enugu, there is no incentive any longer for agents to route their shipments through other airports. He pleaded that Ethiopian Airlines should consider operating freighter services as he anticipates higher volumes which may not be effectively covered by passenger aircrafts.

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