A young but highly promising Nigerian carrier, Ibom Air, kicked off its plans to extend its operations to African destinations on Tuesday with inaugural flight to Accra from Lagos, one of the major lucrative routes in West Africa.
Many industry observers say that Ibom Air has so far defied some well-known industry assumptions. It has defied the belief that governments in Nigeria don’t run good businesses and that governments in Nigeria cannot sustain corporate governance. Although this is largely true but Akwa Ibom government, which owns the airline 100 per cent must be given kudos for maintaining a culture of economic growth and independence to the airline, which made the professionals in the young carrier to bring out their best to propel it to heights unimagined in its young age, four and half years.
What was remarkable about the event was the enthusiasm and the excitement which Ghanaian authorities and Nigerians in Ghana welcomed the airline with so much fanfare and dance troupe that indicates that Ghana is always enthused about Nigerian airlines and there is a special disposition and optimism that Ibom Air, the child of a visionary state government, will do well in Ghana.
The airline’s maiden flight touched down at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport at 7:36am local time on Tuesday, October 17, 2023.
Ibom Air said the strategic expansion aligns with Ibom Air’s vision “to be a world-class African Regional Airline” by offering passengers an industry-leading travel experience thatencompasses schedule reliability, on-time departures, and excellent service.
Expressing his enthusiasm about the new route, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Air, Mr. George Uriesi, said: “We are thrilled to commence our regional operations today, with the inaugural flight between Lagos and Accra. This is a significant step for Ibom Air as we expand our network out of Nigeria and into the African continent. This new route aims to enhance connectivity between Nigeria and Ghana, fostering tourism, trade, and tighter economic and cultural ties. Ibom Air remains committed to delivering exceptional services to our passengers, and we invite travellers between Nigeria and Ghana to choose Ibom Air and experience the best of our service offering.”
In support of the remarkable development, the Managing Director of Ghana Airports Company Limited, Mrs. Pamela Djamson-Tettey, said: ‘’We are indeed delighted to welcome Ibom Air to Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana. We congratulate you on your decision to fly into Accra and are happy to have you on board. Your entry into Ghana’s market will offer the travelling public more options for connectivity between Ghana and Nigeria. As Operators and Managers of Kotoka International Airport, we assure Ibom Air of our support in making their operations in Ghana a success.”
As Ibom Air expands its footprint across the region, travellers can expect a wide range of benefits, including promotional offers, exclusive fares, and special packages designed tomake this route even more attractive. With Ibom Air’s reputation for quality service and the support of the Ghana Airports Company Limited, travellers are set to enjoy anexceptional and efficient travel experience.
In a chat with Uriesi, he told THISDAY that the inaugural flight to Accra was a milestone to Ibom Air.
“Flying to Accra may be a small thing generally. But for Ibom Air, it’s a very, very big thing. Very, very big thing because as part of the dream of Ibom Air, we want to be a total Pan-African airline. We have no ambition to fly outside of Africa, but we want to cover the length and breadth of Africa from Cape to Cairo and Casablanca. And so, this is the first step and it’s a giant step for us. The fact that we are finally flying out of Nigeria is great. In the four and a half years that we have been operating, we have established a reputation in Nigeria that stands for as excellent as you can get under the circumstances. Schedule reliability, on-time performance, excellent service. We want to extend that outside Nigeria today. I said to our competitors, the other two airlines that operate on the route at the moment, AWA as well as Air Peace, that we are not here to compete with them, we are here to assist them. And we want to work together because our competitive philosophy is, there is space for everybody to operate in this industry and thrive.
“We believe that all of us are going to thrive. We are going to bring our best foot forward in Accra. We expect to eventually become a five-frequency operation. Three from Lagos and two from Abuja and that is what we expect to do over the next few months. But we have started with two flights a day, one in the morning, one in the evening, to allow people to go and come as they please, and as it grows, we will increase from the CRJ-900 to the Airbus A220. We are picking up two brand new ones in November, and when the traffic permits, we will increase the aircraft and we will increase the frequencies as the traffic permits. So, we are looking forward to a very long and fruitful journey into Accra and we are going to make sure that we spread this gospel to the next destinations we going to after this,” he said.
Uriesi described the Lagos-Accra route as one of the most lucrative in Africa, saying that the route has got a lot of traction with passengers.
“There is a lot of traffic between the two destinations. A lot of it still goes via somewhere else. So, if you give the right product, the two airlines that are operating right now, they have more than enough customers. We believe we will also generate our own customers and we will all work together to thrive. So, Lagos-Accra was like the best first place to start. And it has worked out that we have started today. And we want to watch the numbers grow and we go along as the number continues to grow,” he added.