Chinelo Obogo

The government of Enugu state has applauded Ibom Air as it commenced operations at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, (AIIA) Enugu with plans to expand to other connecting states in the South East.

The airline which landed at the airport at 9:07am and was saluted by officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria ( FAAN) Aviation Fire Fighting and Rescue Services ( AFFRS) was welcomed by the Deputy Governor of the State, Dame Cecelia Ezeilo.

Ezeilo said the airline is a welcome partner and will act as a catalyst to strengthen economic activities in the state.

“We are very happy and excited to welcome Ibom Air to Enugu State on its inaugural flight. We are partners on progress and we wish you success as you expand,” Ezeilo said.

The manager for marketing and communications, Essienette Aniekan, said the airline will gradually expand to more states in the coming months and will improve on its unique selling points.

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“We are here to position to capture the South Eastern market because Enugu is a commercial hub. Coming here is very strategic because this is an international airport. In the future we will expand to othee African countries but for now, we are focused on expanding to many strategic statea in Nigeria and that is why we are opening up rapidly. We started in our home state and moved to Lagos ans Abuja then to Calabar when we saw that there was a need there and we will keep expanding and growing,” she said.

The Chief Operating Officer ( COO) of the airline, George Uriesi, aaid that the flight into the airport was planned to serve not just the state but adjoining states as well.

He said, “We have moved from the federal capital, Abuja, to the commercial capital, Lagos to the Capital of Akwa Ibom, Uyo then we got into Calabar to get that part of the country and one we are in the south east. Enugu is the gateway to the south east and it’s got so many states that use this airport; there’s Ebonyi, Anambra, some parts of Benue State come here to fly up to Ogoja in Cross Rivers State, so the clientele for this airport is huge.

“We are very happy to be here and we come with our unique selling point; schedule reliability, on time performance ans excellent service. That’s what we are about and we hope that as we provide that combination of three things to our customers they would reward us with their patronage.

“The reason for this aircraft is that we don’t have to carry 100 passengers in order to make good business. Our break even point is lower than many of our competitors and as long as we have certain number of passengers per flight we are comfortable, and certainly the market provides the number of passengers per flights and as long as we have those passengers or more, we continue to be profitable.

“What’s important is that when you have the right equipment, if someone carries 60 passengers and it doesn’t work for him, we can carry 60 passengers and it will work for us. We burn far less fuel than those who fly the bigger aeroplanes, we have more reliability because the aircraft are relatively new and very well maintained. So far, it’s been good,” he said.