By Emmanuel Ufot
Ibom Air, one of the fastest growing airline established by the government of Akwa Ibom State under Governor Udom Emmanuel, recorded another milestone in its success story since its debut last year as it added Enugu into its route this week.
The airline made its inaugural flight into Akanu Ibiam International Airport which was opened for flight operations 2 weeks after its shut down for maintenance and rehabilitation.
The airline was received amidst fanfare at the tarmac of the airport by the deputy governor of Enugu state Cecilia Ezeilo un-behalf of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
last Monday, Lawrence Ifeanyi Uwguanyi joined dignitaries to celebrate the commencement of Ibom Air commercial flight operations at the Akanu Ibiam International airport, Enugu. Mrs. Ezelo, the state Deputy governor was full of commendation to the management of Ibom Air for choosing Enugu as one of its prime routes.
She stressed that the government, the people of Enugu state and the entire South-East were happy for the airline and warmly welcome it into the Coal city.
The Deputy governor while wishing the airline success in its operations described it as partners in progress. “ We are partners in progress and we wish you success as you expand”.
George Uriesi, the Chief Operating Officer of the Akwa Ibom airline said under the expansion blue print of the airline, Enugu was considered strategic because of its growing status as a regional hub connecting many states surrounding it. He emphasized that its expansion into Akanu Ibiam International Airport as one of its choice routes was aimed at not serving only the state but the nearby states also having already created Abuja, Lagos and Calabar as its earlier routes. “ We have moved from the federal capital, Abuja to Lagos the commercial capital, to Calabar and now we are in the South East. Enugu is the gateway to the South- East and there are many states that use this airport, which include Ebonyi, Anambra and parts of Benue State come here to fly including Ogoja in Cross River state. The clientele for this airport is huge”.
Uriesi expressed happiness for the airline’s venture into Enugu stressing that with its unique selling point being; schedule reliability, on time performance and excellence service which is all what the airline underline, there was hope that Ibom Air will provide that three combination to its customers as a reward for their patronage.
He also noted that the advantage Ibom Air has is in its right fleet of aircraft use for its operation as the capacity of the aircraft dovetails with envisaged passenger traffic at every point.
“The reason for this aircraft choice is that we do not have to carry 100 passengers in order to make good business. Our break-even point is lower than many of our competitors and as long as we certain number of passengers per flight, we are comfortable and certainly the market provides the number and as long as we have those passengers or more, we continue to be profitable”.
It could be recalled that the airline recently took delivery of its fifth aircraft even as it also commenced operations at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport Calabar. During the launch of its fifth aircraft into its fleet, Governor Udom Emmanuel stressed his determination to make Akwa Ibom the hub of aviation development in the country.
Many stakeholders have commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for braving the odds associated with it to float a state government owned airline that so far is doing very well in barely a year and 3 months even as attempts by the federal government in the past 20 years of the current democratic dispensation to float a national carrier has proved abortive.
Ibom Air which is owned by Akwa Ibom State Government commenced operations on June 7 2019 when a Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft marked Ibom Air took off from Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo with government officials on board, en route to Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos.
With the commencement of flight operations to Enugu, Ibom Air has five routes which are Abuja, Lagos, Calabar, Uyo and Enugu.
For many indigenes and residents of Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, the floating of Ibom Air by Governor Udom Emmanuel administration has filled the gap created by the demise of ADC Airlines that served the people of the area in the 90s.
Ibom Air has Captain Mfon Udom, a renowned pilot and one time executive director in the defunct ADC airlines in its management team including Rtd Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State
Akwa Ibom is the first state in the country to own an airline.