Ethiopian Airlines flew their Airbus A350-900 – the continent’s first – for the first time on Tuesday. The first trip of the plane on the Addis Ababa – Abuja route was to coincide with the reopening of the Abuja airport.
The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Nigeria’s administrative capital, Abuja, was closed to air traffic six weeks ago to allow works on the damaged runway. The formal reopening was done today (April 18, 2017).
Ethiopian Group CEO, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, remarked about their relationship with Nigeria; “As a veteran Pan-African airline, it has always been our source of pride to connect our beloved continent Africa together and beyond.
Our presence in Nigeria dates back to the 1960’s, same time the Federal Republic of Nigeria got independence from foreign colonization. We have always given our best to Nigeria at all times, both at good and challenging times, and we have been part of Nigeria’s historic growth and always consider ourselves as vital partners in the history and growth of Nigeria as a country, he added.
That moment when flyethiopian Airbus A350 landed at rehabilitated Abuja Airport; reopened 24 hours before the schedule time.
About the Airbus A350-900
The manufacturer defines the A350-900 as ‘‘the cornerstone member of Airbus’ all-new A350 XWB Family, which is shaping the future of medium, long and ultra-long haul travel.’‘
The plane accommodates 325 passengers in a standard three-class configuration, and it boasts of its comfort offer for passengers. It also has Wi-Fi and mobile phone connectivity as a means of allowing passengers to ‘stay-up-to-date with the world below.’
It is to be recalled that Ethiopian has been the first in Africa to own and operate the A350 in African skies. Among a total of 14 orders, Ethiopian currently has three of them in operation.
Due to the closure of the Abuja airport, Kaduna airport – located in the country’s north served as the main international airport for Africa’s most populous nation. Incidentally Ethiopian was the first airline to land in Kaduna on the temporary arrangement.
The Kaduna airport is located about 160 km (100 miles) north of the capital, the government during the six-week closure, gave passengers traveling between Abuja and Kaduna free bus and train services.
Abuja’s Airport handled an estimated 5,000 domestic flights in December alone, it is Nigeria’s second busiest airport aside Lagos. The repair works which cost some $18m was executed by construction firm Julius Berger.