United Nigeria Airlines on Friday operated its first flight into Enugu.
The inaugural flight took off from the domestic wing of Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Ikeja, Lagos State some minutes after 10am and touched down at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, the operational base of United Nigeria at 11:06am before setting off for Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The airline was welcomed by a water cannon salute by the aerodrome and firefighters and officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.
The Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who was represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Enugu, Prof. Malachy Okwueze, pledged to support the airline.
He said, “The Enugu State Government is excited to welcome United Nigeria Airlines to Enugu. We congratulate the company, particularly, the chairman of the United Nigeria for this very giant feat.
“We are excited not only because United Nigeria is now flying into Enugu but particularly because Enugu is the hub for United Nigeria. Enugu is the best state that any business can thrive; it is a home of peace.
Airport Manager, Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Cecilia Oguama, said the airport had continued to experience a surge of passengers after the airport was rehabilitated.
She said, “The traffic in and out of the airport has increased tremendously. We are now having between 6000 and 7000 passengers weekly.
“Before COVID-19, we had less than 1000-passenger traffic because we had only one airline then. In 2019, we only had Air Peace operating but now we have four others operating regularly including United Airline.”
Oguama said the airport was recording close to eight flights daily and since United Airlines had made Enugu its base, it would enjoy tremendous support from the airport.
She added that cargo movement had not started because the international terminal hadn’t opened for operations.
The airline’s Station Manager, Chika Adeyanju, said the airline was expected to operate flights to five locations in the country.
She said, “Currently, our destinations are Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Asaba, Owerri and Port Harcourt for now. These places are not saturated and we need the competition. We need more airlines in Nigeria. I am optimistic that more people will like to travel by air.”
“We have four aircraft and some more will come soon. Since we are starting with domestic, it is viable for us to start with small aircraft. As time go on, we will be having up to four or five flights into Enugu.”
Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo, explained that the airline recorded a full load on its augural flight.
He also stated that the carrier would expand its routes in three months, adding that there was a plan to move beyond Nigeria.