Nigeria’s first-owned airline, Ibom Air floated by Akwa Ibom government, is expecting the delivery of its third (3rd) aircraft after taking the delivery of two (2) from Canada.
According to the state government, the third aircraft in the fleet would arrive on Friday, February 22, 2019.
In preparation for its flight operations, the Udom Emmanuel-led government, on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, took the delivery of CRJ 900 series with registration C-FWNL and C-FWNK.
Speaking on the new airline, the state governor said the airline is an achievement for his administration, adding that the aircraft had a sitting capacity of about 90 people and were among the newest and modern fleet of the manufacturer.
According to Emmanuel, the airline would operate routes that would give preference to Akwa Ibom people, and that the government would soon launch one of the best terminal buildings in the country.
“The state government has strived to focus development of the state economy on land, air and water. So far, the state government has constructed over 1,000 kilometres of roads across the state while the plan to construct the most digital seaport, the Ibom deep seaport, in the state was on.” Emmanuel added.
While this is a welcomed development, unfortunately, this is not so for Nigeria’s national carrier unveiled to takeoff last December at the Farnborough Air Show in London that was later suspended, despite the huge amount already committed to the project. There has been uncertainty over the future of Nigeria Air as Nigeria’s Aviation industry stakeholders have also unanimously suggested that lack of consultation was largely responsible for the eventual suspension of Nigeria Air.
National carrier tussle
In August 2015, the Federal government set up a 13-member committee to consult with international partners for the establishment of a national airline for Nigeria. In the same year, the committee submitted its report to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Aviation, Hajiya Binta Bello.
The airline’s predecessor Nigeria Airways was founded in 1958 after the dissolution of West African Airways Corporation, WAAC. It held the name WAAC Nigeria until 1971, when it was rebranded. It stopped operations in 2003. The defunct airline is owing pensioners arrears running into billions of Naira. Though some of the pensioners had been paid up in September 2018.
The government then went into partnership with Virgin Atlantic, to establish Virgin Nigeria. Virgin Atlantic, however, sold its stake after several disagreements with the Ministry of Transportation and an alleged breach of an agreement by the Federal Government to operate from the international terminal.
Jimoh Ibrahim, who bought Virgin Atlantic’s stake shut down the airline shortly after, due to what he termed sabotage.