An official says as activities at the airport near peak, it becomes imperative to upgrade it to welcome bigger planes.

The Delta State Government on Friday said it was making plans to upgrade the Asaba International Airport to a category 9 Airport to enable it to receive bigger planes.

A Category 9 airport is one whose Rescue and Fire Fighting Services (RFFS) are capable of handling aircraft as large as the Airbus A330/A340 or Boeing B777.

Austin Ayemidejor, a special projects director of the airport, disclosed this to reporters shortly after the arrival of United Nigeria Airline’s maiden flight to Asaba.

The airline, marked 5N-BWZ, which carried passengers from Lagos, touched down at the Asaba airport at 11.40a.m.

Mr Ayemidejor said as activities at the airport near peak, it becomes imperative to upgrade it to welcome bigger planes.

The state government has written to the Nigeria Airspace Management Authority to increase the operational hours to 11p.m.

“We intend to upgrade the Airport to category 9 which will make it have the capacity to receive Boeing 737 and Boeing 777.

“We have applied to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NAMA) for approval to enable us to operate beyond sunrise to sunset by extending operational hours to 11p.m.

“Once that is done, there will be more activities and it is important to let you know that this is the fifth airline that is operating in the Asaba Airport.

“Already, we have Air peace, AZMAN, Aero, and Arik. United Nigeria is the fifth airline that is coming in,” he said

Mr Ayemidejor also disclosed that two other airlines, ValueJet and Ibom Air, would soon operate in the airport.

“So the level of activities here is very encouraging because the market is large, it’s very huge and so we need more airlines to operate here.

“We have lots of patronage from the eastern part of the country particularly the Onitsha area, and then the other cities around Delta for the purpose of patronage,” Mr Ayemidejor said.