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    Monday, September 18, 2023

    Ibom Air: We Have No Plans to Fly Outside Africa

    Akwa Ibom State Government owned airline, Ibom Air, has said it has no plan to fly outside African.

    This came as the airline disclosed that plans are underway to grow its fleet from about 8 currently to 40 in the next 20 years. Ibom Air currently flies to five cities within Nigeria, which include Uyo, Abuja, Calabar, Enugu and Lagos

    The COO of Ibom Air, George Uriesi said that the airline has no plans to fly outside of Africa in the future. Instead, the airline wants to fly within Africa and grow within the African area.

    Uriesi said this on Tuesday at the Airbus Media Event, which was held alongside the seventh Africa Aviation Summit in Abuja. He said that the airline wants to build a safe, service-focused, and secure airline, and that it wouldn’t be smart to compete with big airlines in other countries in a way that would hurt them.

    He said that some big airlines often cut prices to drive small airlines out of the foreign market, and that Ibom Air doesn’t have enough money to compete with big players in their own countries.

    He said that because of this, it is better to run on lines where it can grow and still make money.

    Uriesi said that the airline reached 2.5 million passengers on July 12, 2023, had 34,802 scheduled flights as of August 31, 2023, was well known as the domestic airline with the most reliable schedule and best on-time performance, and had gotten IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Certification in March 2023.

    Uriesi said that the airline chose the “next generation” Bombardier CRJ 900s (76-90 seaters) after a careful review. These planes have low usage, high reliability, and lower upkeep costs for the first few years.

    He said that this type of plane was much better for Nigerian domestic flights and had better “fit-for-purpose” running economics than the B737, the A319/320 family, and the MD80/83, which are all planes that most of the competition uses.

    “In the first half of 2021, there was a major capacity crunch because the brand was getting stronger and more popular. It became clear that there was a need to raise capacity to meet demand. We talked to plane makers about getting bigger planes, and in the end, we decided on the Airbus A220.

    “However, because it would take a long time to place orders and schedule deliveries, with the help of Airbus we were able to get 2 A220-300s from Egyptair on a one-year “wet-lease” that we started using on June 30, 2021. This brought our fleet up to 7 planes.” This gave us a chance to “test” the plane, and Ibom Air’s COO said, “We were thrilled that the A220 was very well received and helped us do very well in the Nigerian market.”

    He also said that the huge success of the A220 wet lease led the airline to order 10 new A220-300s from Airbus in October 2021. The first of these planes will arrive in November 2023.

    Uriesi said that because Ibom Air had only been an airline for a little over two years, Airbus had to go to Uyo to check out the company.

    He said that Airbus told them what they needed to do to get the money they needed and that Ibom Air was asked to several aviation finance and economics conferences and meetings. Airbus also set up formal meetings with most of the key players and told them about Ibom Air.

    “Airbus gave data and historical/statistical information for developing routes and networks, and Airbus was always a good “listening board” for ideas.

    He said that Ibom Air had to deal with the “bad reputation” that some past deals with aircraft had given Nigerian airlines.

    He said that Airbus helped them get speaking spots for Ibom Air at big industry conferences so that the company would be known around the world.

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