Akwa Ibom-owned carrier, Ibom Air, on Friday began commercial flight operations with an inaugural flight from Uyo to Lagos.
Our correspondent reports that the airline’s Bombardier CRJ-900LR aircraft landed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2, Lagos at 1.15 p.m.
It was welcomed with water canon salutation by officers of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Fire Services.
Speaking with newsmen, Mr George Uruesi, Chief Operating Officer, Ibom Air, said the airline was set up by the government as part of its vision to make Akwa Ibom a choice destination for people visiting Nigeria.
He said the state had invested so much in the aviation sector and currently had an airline, an airport and a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility that would soon be completed.
“We have started our operations today with flights on the Uyo-Abuja-Lagos-Uyo routes and gradually we will expand our services.
“Ibom Air is part of the vision of the government. It is designed to be a very well run organisation and would not be run as a parastal but like any private airline business.
“We have a robust business plan and even though we are starting with three, we plan to have 10 aircraft in operation within the next three years.
“Our fourth aircraft will arrive in August, while the fifth aircraft is being expected in the first quarter of 2020,” he said.
According to him, Ibom Air is in business to fill a seeming gap in the industry which are schedule reliability, on-time performance and superior customer services.
Uruesi, a former Managing Director of FAAN, said the airline chose the 90-seater Bombadier CRJ planes for their operations after a thorough feasibility study.
“I think investing in much newer aircraft is better for us. Our growth plan is to expand our operations within the African region.
“We don’t have plans for long-haul flights and that also influenced the choice of our equipment,” he said.
Also, Mr Lookman Animashaun, Director of Maintenance, Ibom Air, commended the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for doing a thorough job before issuing Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) to the airline.
Animashaun said the airline management observed that there was a dearth of CRJ engineers in Nigeria and therefore, sent nine of its new personnel abroad to be type-rated on the aircraft.