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 airline had also stated that it is planning to build a world-class African regional airline, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul, MRO, facility to compete with major airlines globally.
Speaking at the sidelines of the just concluded Aviation Africa Summit in Abuja, Ibom Air Chief Operating Officer, COO, Mr. George Uriesi, said: “From inception we have mapped out a strategy by jettisoning intercontinental operations to compete with the likes of British Airways, Air France-KLM, Delta, United Airlines, and Emirates.
“We have no ambition to go outside Africa. We want to see Ibom Air be a world-class African regional airline.
“We have built credibility. In 2021, the burgeoning strength of the Ibom Air brand based on wide acceptance in the market created a serious capacity crunch in Half-year 2021. It became apparent that an increase to meet demand had become necessary.”
“We approach Airbus. The response from Airbus was fantastic. We eventually settled for A220. We tested the aircraft and we were delighted that the A220 was very well received. The A220 changed the face of our operation.”
“We contended with the negative reputation some previous aircraft lease transactions had earned for Nigerian airlines with violation of the Cape Town Convention agreement to which Nigeria through the NCAA is a signatory. We contended with the Forex scarcity situation. Airbus gets our financial report half a year or monthly.”
“Our vision will be to grow our fleet size from about 8 currently to 40 in the next 20 years.
“When it comes to aviation, Akwa Ibom ranks top. The Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) which came first before the airline is an incredible vision of successive governments in the state. The MRO would heavily complement the carrier’s operations and help to reduce costs by fixing its airplanes in-house. It is a game changer.
“This has equally come with the new International Smart Terminal Building. The new terminal is a huge game changer to the industry and Nigeria as well. This is the first multipurpose-built terminal specifically designed to move passengers from flight to flight.
“Akwa Ibom targets to become part of the big four in Africa among which are the MRO of South Africa Airways, the MRO of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa, and the facility of Egypt Air in Cairo
“The MRO is massive and can take two Boeing 747-800 standing side by side with the doors closed. In the same vein, it can take eight of its aircraft type, Airbus A220 at once and 10 of its other aircraft type, CRJ900.