President John Mahama on Friday inaugurated the first phase of the upgrade and expansion of the Tamale Airport and the first direct commercial flight from the Airport to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
The Boeing 747 400-series, which took off at 15:40 GMT, carried 498 passengers to Mecca to participate in this year’s Hajj activities.
President Mahama, who witnessed the take-off of the first direct commercial flight from the Tamale International Airport, was elated that his government has fulfilled a major campaign promise to the people of the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions to fly direct from Tamale to Mecca for Hajj activities.
The upgrade and expansion of the Tamale Airport into an international airport means that the country now has an alternative airport capable of handling wide body aircraft like Kotoka International Airport.
The upgrade and expansion of the Tamale International Airport is to transform the economy of the country in general and the northern part of the country in particular as Tamale has the potential of attracting increased air traffic and international connectivity.
President Mahama said the Tamale International Airport would support economic activities such as the exportation of perishable agricultural produce from the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority zone.
He said the government was working to develop aviation infrastructure across the country adding the runway of the Ho Airport would be completed this year whiles in the next few months, the Wa Airport would begin recording commercial flights.
Mr Fiifi Kwetey, Minister for Transport, urged airlines in the country to reduce air fares as government has also reduced the cost of aviation fuel to make their services affordable.
Sheik Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, National Chief Imam, who also witnessed the take-off of the first direct commercial flight from the Tamale International Airport to Mecca, thanked Allah for the initiative and prayed for the leadership of the country.
Sheik Sharubutu also thanked Allah for the peace prevailing amongst various religious and ethnic groups in the country.