By Chinedu Eze
After several months of planning, Akwa Ibom State has unveiled its airline known as Ibom Air.
In addition, the state has engaged about 400 indigenes as personnel for the government-owned carrier.
An indigene of the state in the aviation sector told THISDAY at the weekend that the launch of the airline was a culmination of the aspiration of the state to play significant role in the nation’s aviation industry.
He noted that the state was the first and the only state that planned to build maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility, which is still on-going and trained so many of its youths in different fields of aviation. This, according to the source makes it easy to recruit those who benefitted from the training to work for the airline.
Ibom Air, he said would kick off with three aircraft and hoped to increase fleet as it begins operation.
The state government which confirmed the development, said the airline would operate within Uyo-Lagos- Abuja routes.
He stated that it ventured into airline operations to add to the capacity of existing airlines.
The State Commissioner for Special Duties and Aviation Development, Mr. Akan Okon who revealed this in Uyo, said the recruitment process concluded, with an Akwa Ibom son as Chief Pilot maintained that the heavy traffic in Akwa Ibom airport made it imperative for the state government to join the few airlines operating there.
“Ibom Air has come to stay. I am happy to tell you that we have completed recruitment with good number of Akwa Ibom children. The Chief Pilot is from Akwa Ibom. Three aircraft are secured and are ready for commencement of operation. It is completely owned and operated by Akwa Ibom State Government and it will provide 400 direct and indirect jobs,” he said
Okon said though the airline is exclusively owned by the Akwa Ibom State government, its management and operations would completely be professionals with world best practices.
He said members of staff of the new airline, recruited strictly on merit are currently undergoing training in their various areas of specialties, getting set to kick-start operations as soon as required formalities are concluded.
On the Victor Attah International Airport, Okon revealed it is presently being upgraded to improve its standard with on-going second runway, new taxiway, a power sub-station, new commercial building and other unique features.
Such improvements, he said made it possible for the landing of over 20 aircraft in the President’s entourage during the flag off of the APC presidential campaigns in Akwa Ibom for the south-south region.
He attributed the state government’s success in this direction to governor Udom Emmanuel whom he said has consistently made what may appear impossible to others, a possibility in the state.
Okon, also applauded the Director of Air Worthiness of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Engr Ita Awak, for his role in ensuring ease of operations and the actualization of the purpose for which Ibom Airport was established.
“Some Akwa Ibom sons in positions of authority have been very supportive, prominent among these is the Director of Air Worthiness, Engr Ita Awak who has worked so hard to ensure that the MRO becomes a reality, he believes such development will benefit Akwa Ibom children, and so he is not after political party, he is about the development of Akwa Ibom State, we sincerely commend him,”he said