Gombe, Arik Air Collaborate For Daily Flights

Gombe State Government and Arik Air Ltd. will partner to ensure daily flights from Abuja to Gombe, the Commissioner of Works and Infrastructure, Alhaji Hadi Shehu, has said.

Shehu disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gombe on Friday.

He said that Gov. Ibrahim Dankwambo had granted the approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which would boost air traffic in the state through the Gombe Airport.

“The ministries of finance; commerce and industries; and justice are already reviewing a lot of proposals we have received from the directives of the governor to see whether we can actualise some of the MoUs we want to enter with people who want to provide ground handling services.

“We are already looking at the possibility of entering into an arrangement; we just got the approval of his Excellency.

“We are going into an arrangement with Arik Air, the only airline now operating in Gombe, to see that we sustain their operations on daily basis.

“They can bring their aircraft, the last flight from Abuja and first flight in the morning.

“An average Gombe resident can go to Abuja and do his business and come back the same day.

On the technical staff at the airport, the commissioner said that there were no adequately trained personnel but that the ministry was thinking of entering into some kind of concessionary arrangement.

According to him, the arrangement is aimed at ensuring that there are available flights in the state.

“As it is now, we are more or less operating like a social service, we need to link with Abuja or other areas in the country and then we need to come back to Gombe.’’

On the state of facilities at the airport, Shehu said that there was a provision in the 2013 budget to upgrade the facilities.

“What we have is a landing stream, you have a place where you can receive visitors, but to say that we have real terminal which depicts an airport, we are yet to go there.

“So what we want to do now is to upgrade the present so-called international terminal to really have an international outfit,” he said.

The commissioner said that the government was thinking of establishing either a board or an agency to coordinate the activities of the airport to boost revenue generation.

He said that the vision of the ministry was to develop the airport into a regional airport where states in the North-East could use it.

“The thinking is based on the fact that Gombe state is a hub of economic activities in the region, hence the need to boost its air travel system.