The Bayelsa State Government has opened its over N60bn international airport.
The airport, known as Bayelsa International Airport, was opened on Thursday with an inaugural flight by the Governor, Seriake Dickson, from Abuja, at a few minutes past 2.00pm followed by an Air Peace flight from Lagos, at 2:40 pm.
Dickson said the airport was built to improve the economy of the state, and would soon be fully inaugurated for both local and international flights.
The governor said the state government handled the entire project without input from the Federal Government or the Niger Delta Development Commission.
According to him, the project was handled by Dantata and Sawoe at the cost of about N60bn, adding that by the time compensation were paid to landowners in the five communities who provided space for the airport, the total cost would be close to N65bn.
Dickson said the report that the state government spent between N120bn and N150bn on the project was not true.
He stated that the airport would be able to handle flights by big aircraft such as the Boeing 777.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Daniel Iworisoma, said the airport with 3.7-kilometre runway would create over 2,000 formal and informal jobs for indigenes of the state.
Iworisoma described the airport as Valentine’s Day present to the people of Bayelsa.
He said the airport was built strictly for business, especially the oil and gas industry and had no political undertone.
He said, “We must put politics aside for us to have development. This is the first airport in Bayelsa, to help develop the economy.
“This airport will serve as a hub for the petroleum industry but we want to also look away from oil and gas and look at other revenue sources; so this is a legacy project.”
The Senator representing Bayelsa East, Ben Bruce, said the airport would ease movement for indigenes of the state and also boost trade and commerce.
The Airport Manager, Mrs Elizabeth Daitere, said the airport would operate day time flights, for now, adding that all safety infrastructure was in place for commercial and cargo flight operations.
She said commercial flight operations would soon commence for Bayelsa-Lagos-Bayelsa and Bayelsa-Abuja.