One year after it was shutdown, Osubi Airport, near Warri, has finally resumed commercial flight operations causing excitement in Delta State and it’s environs.
Osubi airport was conceived to serve the city of Warri in Delta State, Nigeria. It is about 10 kilometres northeast of the city.
Prior to construction of the airport, a small airstrip had been created next to a congested part of the city of Warri during the 1960s. The runway was approximately 700 metres (2,300 ft) in length.
There was a small terminal building and an aircraft hangar. Small charter aircraft of Aero Contractors and other firms provided service to and from Lagos airport and other Nigerian cities.
The Federal Government first drew up plans to build an airport in Delta State in the late 1970s to allow easy transport into Warri City by air because of its status as an oil city, but the plan languished for over two decades.
Meanwhile, people coming in and out of Warri continued to use the old airstrip in a congested part of the city. The airstrip could only accommodate small aircraft on its short runway, so that whenever a plane took off or landed, the authorities had to close off an adjacent road to traffic so that a passing car would not be clipped.
Finding it harder to conduct businesses with the old airstrip, Shell decided to build one on its own. The airport was commissioned and open for commercial use on 1 April 1999 with Shell (SPDC) landing a modern Dornier 328 and Aero Contractors 50-passenger Dash aircraft at the Osubi airport.
Since the airstrip opened for public use, it is reckoned to be one of the busiest aviation facilities in Nigeria and it is being operated in partnership with other oil companies.
The maintenance and facilities are among the best in the country and traffic flow is one of the highest. In the first six months of the opening of Osubi Airstrip, more than 100,000 passengers passed through just as it handled 3,500 aircraft movements.
In 2015, the number of passengers movements into the Airport, according to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria ( FAAN) Aviation Sector Reports, was 187,630.
Unfortunately, following a controversy involving aviation service providers and management of the airport, it was closed in February 2020.
But one year after it was closed, the Federal Government announced the reopening of Osubi Airport in Delta State for commercial flights operations.
The government stated that the airport will now be managed by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) as against the former operator of the facility, Shorelines Oil Services Limited.
The Airport Manager, Mr. Winston Egwuatu said the three commercial airlines operating in the airport at the moment fly Lagos, Abuja, adding that more busy routes would soon be added.
Continuing, he said the airlines are Air Peace, Aero, and Arik, noting that more airlines were already considering adding Osubi to their routes.
He said, “We intend to open more routes because the market is very large and viable. The business is here and we are ready for it.
“Before now, we had three airlines: Arik Air, Air Peace and Aero operating at the airport, but with this reopening, we are having the United Nigeria Airline (UNA) and we are expecting more.
“UNA is setting up its office here. I believe that before the end of July, they will fly Lagos and Abuja.”
He also revealed that the airport, which was inaugurated in 1999, was jointly established by Shell and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), with the former owning 45 percent shares and NNPC 55 percent shares
“In 2015, Shell later divested its shares into deep offshore exploration activities, while Shorelines Oil Services Limited took over. Shorelines Oil Services was only terminated as operatorship as far as Osubi airport is concerned, and not as ownership.
“It, therefore, means that FAAN is here to run the airport on behalf of the joint owners, Shorelines Oil Services Limited and NNPC,’’ he stated.
Air Peace touched down at the tarmac at about 8:45 am on July 9 this year before a cheering crowd of traditional rulers, staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, and others.
Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori at a brief ceremony during the flight resumption, said reopening of the airport was a milestone for the state.
Oborevwori expressed joy at the re-opening of the airport, saying that they are delighted to witness the re-make of history because when the airport was first inaugurated, it was the first of its kind in the state.
He said the state and Okpe local government had lost so much revenue when the place was out of operation, adding that the resumption would bring about robust gains for the state and the local government.
He said, “We are here gathered to witness the reopening of the Osubi Airport by the Federal Government. To me, this is a milestone for the State and Okpe Local Government Area in particular.
”In 2015, the number of passengers movements into the Airport, according to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Aviation Sector Reports, was 187,630. I believe this figure would be more as at the date the Airport was shut down.”
His Royal Majesty, Orhue 1, Orodje of Okpe Kingdom, and His Royal Majesty, Emmanuel Sideso, Abe 1, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom were also ground to witness the reopening.
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