Rivers wants Ethiopian Airlines direct flights to Port Harcourt - PUNCH
BY Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt
RIVERS State Government and Ethiopian Airlines have reached an agreement for the operation of permanent international flights from the Port Harcourt International airport subject to the approval of the relevant federal authorities.
The two parties reached the agreement at the headquarters of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa after a meeting attended by the Group Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Dr Tewolde Gebremariam, and other top managers.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor, Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu, quoted the Chief Commercial Officer of the airline, Esayas Mariam, as saying, “We are willing and capable to fly into Port Harcourt on a regular basis. For now, we have exhausted our Bilateral Air Agreement Approval and we need another approval to operate the Port Harcourt route.
“We need your help to ensure that approval comes from the federal authorities. At first, there should be a temporary operating permit, pending the final approval.”
Mariam added that Ethiopian Airlines needed the initial support of the Rivers State Government for handling and aviation infrastructure in Port Harcourt to develop the new market.
He declared that Ethiopian Airlines would also embark on advertisements to promote Port Harcourt as a tourist and investment destination.
Vice President of Strategic Planning, Ethiopian Airlines, Busera Awel, made a presentation on the capacity and vision of the airline for the continent.
In his response, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, declared that the state government was willing to provide an enabling environment for Ethiopian Airlines to operate in the state.
He promised that he would meet with the Minister of Aviation to ensure that Port Harcourt international airport was approved for Ethiopian Airlines as a destination.
Wike declared that his administration was working on making Port Harcourt a regional air transport hub for greater economic development of the state.
He said, “As we therefore consolidate on our achievements, we want to also focus on making Port Harcourt city a regional air transport hub through the private public partnership approach while leveraging the existing aviation infrastructure and related market and other advantages of the state.
“I wish to assure you that we are ready to do everything within our powers and spheres of authority and influence to facilitate the realisation of your interest and desire directly and sustainably fly from Port Harcourt to Addis Ababa and other parts of the world.”