By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Ahmed Gulsen has promised to convince the management of Turkish Airlines to fly Kaduna airport during the six week closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
A statement by James Odaudu, Deputy Director, Press Unit, in the Ministry of Transportation on Wednesday, said the Ambassador made the promise when he received the Minister of State, Aviation Sen. Hadi Sirika in his office.
Gulsen also said that the Turkish Government was committed to an unflinching and continued partnership with Nigerian Government in the development of its aviation industry.
He promised to do his best to convince Turkish Airline operators to cooperate with the Nigerian government in developing the aviation industry.
According to him, the decision of the Turkish Airlines not to fly Kaduna was based on issues of security and readiness of the airport to handle international flights.
He, however, accepted the minister’s invitation to visit the Kaduna airport for on-the-spot assessment to be able to give informed advice to the airline on operating to and from Kaduna.
“The partnership between Turkey and Nigeria is very strategic and therefore at this point of need by Nigeria, Turkey should be ready to assist.
“As the ambassador representing Turkey in Nigeria, I should be able to convince my government and operators of the Turkish Airlines to fly Kaduna.
“I agree with you that the Abuja runway needs to be repaired and that the closure is necessary; I will talk to the CEO of the airline to convince them to fly Kaduna during this period.
“Though it is their private business, but they should be able to trust my judgment as their representative in Nigeria,’’the ambassador said.
The minister, while appreciating the commitment of the ambassador, assured airline operators in Nigeria that the Kaduna airport is secured with standard facilities and better positioned to facilitate movement of passengers.
Sirika reiterated the fact that Nigerian government was counting on the airline operators to understand with her, in its trying period and make sacrifices for the country.
He assured operators of government’s openness and preparedness to work with all serious minded and sincere operators.
According to him, the position of Nigeria in the African sub-region is highly strategic and business oriented and taking advantage of its size and geographical location guarantees adequate return on investment over time.
“We welcome the interest of the Turkish government and Turkish firms in Nigeria’s aviation industry and the Federal Government is taking a giant step to strengthen the partnership,’’ he said.