The Chief Operating Officer Ibom Air, Mr. George Uriesi has said that Akwa Ibom State Government is not funding Ibom Air but like a business venture has invested resources in the carrier and has handed over to a competent management team and will in time, start recouping its investment.
This is just as he said that with the arrival of the Airbus A220-300, the added capacity to Ibom Air fleet has affected the airline’s ticket prices and reduced it significantly.
Mr. Uriesi explained all these while responding to questions from the media during the airline’s inaugural flight to Port Harcourt where is also stated that the arrival of the Airbus A220-300 came at the right time to aid the airline’s growth.
Uriesi explained that already the ripple effects of having the airline and other businesses surrounding it is driving the dream of opening up the state to tourism, hospitality and other businesses and the benefits of the state’s investment were so numerous to count.
He said,”It is a big investment; yes Akwa Ibom made the investment. They were bold enough to make the investment and made sure the investment was put in the hands of competent management, competent people who can run it and since they did that the state has benefited immensely in so many ways I cannot begin to enumerate now.
”Hotel occupancy, access into Uyo, people can come in and go out. Particularly hotel occupancy in Uyo, you can’t even find a hotel now when you go to Uyo because people are coming into the state every day.”
“So it’s a big investment and we have tried to return to the state what is expected of us. Eventually, we will return to the state, money but so far we have run it well with the resources we have been given. People feel the state is funding the airline, the airline is funding itself, the state invested and left, the next thing we will do for the state is to give it back but so far we are giving back every day,” Uriesi said.
On the capacity of the airline and its foray into wet leasing, its Airbus A220-300 a new generation aircraft with great range and fuel efficient capacity, he said the airline was almost forced to do so as its choice aircraft , the CRJ-900 was becoming limited in capacity fast.
He explained,” We were almost forced to do this because the CRJ-900 our choice b of aircraft have become limited in capacity. People couldn’t find seats on our flight, it was tough and so we had to bring forward our strategy to get a larger aircraft and just in the nick of time we were able to achieve that, already we have been flying for four/five days and the air plane is full, so it is justified.”
He also admitted that with the increased capacity, Ibom Air fares have also reduced:
“ By bringing these air planes, we have already reduced our fares, you can get N24,000/N27, 000 tickets, yeah, it has affected out tickets, our own fares have come down because of more capacity, I don’t know about others.”