Commercial flight operations commenced at the Bayelsa State International Airport on Wednesday with the United Nigeria Airline (UNA) aircraft touching down about 3.45pm.
The aircraft, which took off from the Murtala Mohammed Airport 2 (MMA2) in Lagos exactly 3pm, had on board the state governor, Senator Douye Diri, the airline’s chairman, Chief Obiora Okonkwo, Tokyo Olympics Silver medallist in wrestling, Bayelsa-born Blessing Oborududu, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, Ambassador Boladei Igali, members of the Bayelsa National Assembly caucus as well as the state House of Assembly members and commissioners among other dignitaries.
A mammoth crowd of jubilant Bayelsans had thronged the airport from early in the morning in order to witness the historic event.
Addressing the crowd on arrival, Governor Diri said full commercial flight would commence in two weeks based on bookings made.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, the governor noted that commencement of commercial flight signalled economic development of the state by bringing Bayelsa to the world and the world to Bayelsa.
His words: “This significant event is the culmination of the aspirations that was birthed by late Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governor of the state, which was eventually built by Senator Seriake Dickson, my predecessor. And it is under my administration that this project was crystallised. This is a demonstration that team work truly works.
“I am happy to report to you that the pilot of the United Nigeria Airline said our runway is one of the best in Nigeria. It is our determination to make Bayelsa truly the Glory of All Lands and we are making Bayelsa a construction site.”
Senator Diri also expressed gratitude to his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, and his team whom he said worked tirelessly to bring the project to fruition.
Speaking on behalf of the state’s national assembly caucus, Senator Moses Cleopas representing Central Senatorial District, congratulated Governor Diri and Bayelsans for achieving the feat and lauded him for his visionary leadership.
In their separate goodwill messages, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere, chairman of the state Traditional Rulers Council and Amanyanabo of Twon-Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff as well as Chief Obiora Okonkwo said with the airport in place, it would open a plethora of economic opportunities and place Bayelsa on the world map.
They urged Bayelsans, particularly the youths, to take advantage of the opportunities that the airport facility world bring to empower themselves.