The Akwa Ibom State government says it plans to use Ibom Air to unlock and grow the tourism potential of the state.
The state’s Commissioner of Information, Mr. Charles Udoh who stated this in Uyo also disclosed that there were ongoing plans by the airline to make a foray into the regional market.
He said passenger patronage of the airline had grown significantly in the domestic market since the launch of operations about two month ago (June 2019) and that the next target was how to create a synergy between the airline and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as well as commence flights into Libreville, Sao Tome and Principe, and Equatorial Guinea.
Udoh disclosed that there are plans to grow Ibom Air fleet from the current three aircraft to five with two additional aircraft expected to arrive the country in a couple of months.
Udoh said geographically Akwa Ibom State is positioned as a tourist destination and that those visiting the state would always find the state-owned airline a reliable option to fly.
“Akwa Ibom is like an end point, so it must attract visitors as people rarely pass in transit,” Udoh said.
Explaining how aviation and tourism are intertwined, Udoh said, “the rising economic and tourism strength of Ethiopia, and UAE, are driven largely by their airlines, which have massive government interest.”
“For governments around the world to be doing this means there are underlining strength in it; Akwa Ibom will also ensure that this avenue is explored maximally,” he added.
Udoh said to boost tourism, the government was working towards creating more socio-cultural activities and programmes to bring people into the state and grow revenue from both aviation and tourism sectors.
He also said the state government had invested in the construction of a second runway for the Victor Attah International Airport. He said that the aim of developing the second runway with the main terminal building, is to attract some of the international airlines and businesses into the state and “eventually make Uyo the next aviation and tourism hub”.
He said “Ibom Air has come into the market with aircraft that are at most six years old thereby setting the standard in terms of age and quality of aircraft in Nigeria.
“A noticeable drawback in the aviation industry is that many airlines go for big or jumbo jets that there is need to fill with around 175 Passengers. So the break-even point is high. Thus aviation fuel consumption is high and the age causes frequent breakdown and maintenance visits.