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Uriesi: Ibom Air has no intention to fly beyond Africa

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Ibom Air, George Uriesi has disclosed that the airline has no intention of operating beyond the shores of Africa.

He stated that the carrier’s operations would concentrate on regional flight operations and flights within the continent.

Ibom Air’s Bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft

Uriesi made the closure recently at the pre-Aviation Africa Summit which ended in Abuja last week.

The carrier may have taken lessons from airlines that started small and ventured on intercontinental routes without stabilizing on the domestic and West Coast routes, leading to their quick demise.

The domestic and regional operations offer airlines much more than long-haul destinations; a situation that can be likened to frittering away their gain on routes that appear lucrative but indeed, a drain pipe on many of the country’s airlines.

Ibom Air which hit the 2.5 million passenger mark on July 12, 2023, narrowly made it to pay aircraft lease rentals for some of its airplanes because of the depreciating value of Naira.

The carrier however devised a means to pay Naira equivalent occasioned by scarcity of Forex which was accepted by the lessor.

“If not, it would have been difficult to pay. We have built credibility and they are ready to lease aircraft to us. 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.”

He narrated the ordeal of the carrier in seeking financing for the A220 purchase and had to surmount the negative reputation of the country’s airlines that put a lot of obstacles in the way of lessors to repossess their airplanes in the case of a payment default.

“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.”

Uriesi stated that the vision of the airline would be to grow its fleet from about 8 currently to 40 in the next 20 years.

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