…AIMS FOR 10 BY 2022
By Umoh-Obong Kingsley
Akwa Ibom State Government has concluded plans to purchase two more fleets of aircraft for the Ibom Airline Company.
Briefing newsmen at his Uyo residence on Monday, the Chairman of Ibom Airline Company, Air Commodore (retired) Idongesit Nkanga, said the new aircraft will be added to the already available three to make it five within the month.
According to him, with five aircraft, Ibom Air will be able en route Uyo-Calabar and Calabar-Uyo to meet the yearnings of its teeming passengers, adding that about 68-70 percent of passengers patronize Ibom Air following its excellent standard of operation.
Nkanga hinted that before the end of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration, Ibom Air will have 10 fleets of aircraft to help expand the domestic routes and also deep into the regional areas.
He also disclosed that Ibom Air has operated about 3000 flights within the last couple of months and that routes have been increased from the Uyo-Abuja, Abuja-Uyo to Lagos-Abuja, Abuja-Lagos.
In his words: “The coming of Ibom Air has brought substantial improvement in the economy of the state. When we went into building of the airport, the thinking of the state then was area of focus after crude oil. Aviation became the choice to utilize and make more money for the state following the changes in technology and modernization, and to also help those who want to make a career out of aviation, as government is planning to establish a flying school to complement in the state, and it will take off as soon as consultations with some of the partnering companies are ready.
“What oil is to Nigeria is what aviation is to Ethiopia as far as economy is concerned. As Nigeria depends solely on oil, so does Ethiopia on aviation.
“Performance at Ibom Air has gone beyond expectations in terms of load factor and passenger carriage, as hoteliers are now enjoying due to influx of people flying into the state to do business. The airline is boosting businesses in the state. People can now fly in and do businesses and fly back same day. It has never happened before the advent of Ibom Air.”
He maintained that Akwa Ibom remains the only state that has a Maintenance, Repair and Operating supply (MRO) in the country, stressing that if a state could do that, one would have expected the support of the nation, but that does not come through, and added that Port Harcourt and Lagos State would not have been anything if they did not have an international airport and the seaport.
He reiterated the commitment of the Udom Emmanuel-led administration to do everything humanly possible to realize the international airport to its full potential and the seaport, which he said will enable the state to depend less on the federation allocation account.
The Chairman of the airline used the occasion to clear the air on the issue that the aircraft is dominated by nonindigenes, describing the insinuation as untrue and explained that though nonindigenes occupy some critical positions because aviation does not know indigenization but sets out for the best.
He noted that government has set out programmes to train most indigenes of the state who are on 737 aircraft to be rated on CRJ so that they can fly the airline for safety and security sake.