By John Ikani
The Bayelsa State Government and the United Nigeria Airlines have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to seal a partnership deal for the commencement of commercial flight operations at the state-owned Bayelsa International Airport next month.
The MoU signed at the Government House in Yenagoa on Wednesday signifies the collapse of a previous deal Bayelsa entered into with the Akwa Ibom State government in May for the Ibom Air to commence commercial flight operations at the airport with a 50-seater aircraft.
By the deal, the Ibom Air would have started flights in the Bayelsa-Lagos and Bayelsa-Abuja routes which the state government described as “two routes with highest traffic.”
In April, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority gave approval to the state government for the airport to start commercial flight operations.
Secretary to the State Government, Konbowei Benson, signed the agreement on behalf of the government while the United Nigeria Airlines’ Executive Director and Chief Operations Officer, Mazi Osita Okonkwo and the Director of Administration/Special Adviser to the Chairman, Linus Awute, represented the company.
Speaking on the significance of the signing ceremony at the Government House, Yenagoa, Governor Douye Diri expressed happiness that the first airport in the heart of the Ijaw nation was a dream come true for founding fathers of the state.
According to him, the signing of the agreement signalled the commencement of flight operations at the Bayelsa airport in July, and would open the state to the world and a lot of opportunities.
To enable the airport commence night operations, the governor directed the Commissioner for Works to put modalities in place to install the runway lights, which he said had already been procured.
He commended his predecessor, Senator Seriake Dickson, for the initiative to embark on the construction and completion of the airport.
The governor, who also appreciated the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board for agreeing to partner with the state government, appealed to other corporate organisations and the international oil companies to equally partner with the state to develop the airport.
He said, “I like to thank God for today. We have been looking forward to this day that the Bayelsa State International Airport would come on stream for commercial flights like every other airport in Nigeria.
“Today marks the end of our search for a partner that would move this state to its desired place in the aviation sector. I want to announce to you that the state government has been searching for partners in terms of the MoU we have just signed. One of such partners that has agreed to join hands with the state government is the NCDMB.”
Diri equally thanked Bayelsans for their support for making the day a reality.