Emirates Airlines, on Friday returned to Abuja route with 95 passengers and 17 crew members on board its Boeing 777-300 from Dubai after it has closed the route for over a year.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the aircraft landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at 3:00 pm with the usual flight showers to celebrate its return.
The airline had on Nov. 3 announced its decision to reinstate its second daily service to Lagos and resume operations to Abuja with four weekly flights from Dec. 15.
It disclosed that the added frequencies to Lagos would be operated with B777-300ER aircraft, offering eight private suites in First Class, 42 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 310 spacious seats in Economy Class.
Emirates also stated that the reinstated service to Abuja would be served by a 360-seat B777-300 aircraft in a three-class configuration.
The Airport Manager, NAIA, Mr Mahmud Sani, said the reinstated services to Abuja by the Emirates would further boost activities in the airport as well as more revenue to the government.
Sani expressed happiness that the Federal Government was able to encourage the airline to return to the route after it stopped operation for over a year.
He said that scarcity of FOREX and the bad state of the runway at that time were the main issues that led to the suspension of operation by the airline.
According to him, with Medview’s three times weekly operation to Dubai and Emirates’ four times weekly operation to Dubai from Abuja, you can be sure of travelling every day.
“Emirates has returned with four times frequency in a week and we are happy that the three times that Medview will operate will cover the days that Emirates will not operate.
“With this development, our Dubai bound passengers should be sure of direct flight to and fro and this means more opportunities for passengers and more activities for the airport.
“It is a great pleasure for us to have received the airline today because it is going to have positive effect on our activities in terms of operation and revenue,’’ he said.
Sani also disclosed that efforts were being made to encourage South African Airways (SAA) and Rwanda Air to return to the route.
He said that the officials of the airlines had come to inspect the airport facilities to enable them decide, adding that the government was doing everything possible to ensure their return.
According to him, the suspension of operations by the airlines has affected the airport in the last one year.
A passenger, who simply identified himself as Mark, told NAN that it was a pleasant experience once again to fly direct from Dubai to Abuja after a long time.
He said that the flight was smooth and commended the government for its effort toward returning the airline back to the route.
The passenger also urged the government to do its best to improve the standard of the nation’s airport to meet international standards.