How Nigeria’s only state-owned airline, Ibom Air, is dominating Nigeria’s sky
Many Nigerians seem to have a liking for Ibom Air, a commercial airline wholly owned by the Akwa Ibom State Government, in the South-south region of the country.
Set up just three years ago, Ibom Air has built a solid reputation and is gradually dominating Nigeria’s aviation sector, in what analysts attribute to the foresight of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, and the professionalism and dedication of the airline’s management and staff.
The selling point for Ibom Air is, some passengers told PREMIUM TIMES, its scheduled reliability – its ability to keep to scheduled time for departures and arrivals.
Besides, their aircraft are clean. And they have a reputation for excellent customer service, according to several passengers who have shared their experiences on Ibom Air flights.
Stories abound of how several Nigerians have missed their Ibom Air flights simply because they could not keep up with the airline’s punctuality.
In March 2021, for instance, Ibom Air achieved 99.8 per cent schedule reliability and 96 per cent on-time performance, a remarkable feat in Nigeria’s aviation history where passengers have become accustomed to several hours of delayed flights and flight cancellations.
Ibom Air operated all its 708 scheduled flights for that month, and 706 of those flights were on schedule, while 678 [it’s 678] were on time.
It is the airline with the second highest number of domestic flights in 2021, and the one with the overall best on-time performance for that year, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said in a recently published data.
The airline, with seven aircraft (five Bombardier CRJ900 and two Airbus A220-300) in its fleet, flies 11 routes, covering six Nigerian cities – Abuja, Calabar, Enugu, Lagos, Uyo, and Port Harcourt, and has operated 23, 630 flights and carried close to two million passengers as of 31 July 2022.
Its two Airbus were acquired as part of a recent deal to purchase 10 Airbus A220 aircraft.
Ibom Air has edged out competitors in Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo, where it is headquartered, and remains one of the only two airlines operating from the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar. The other is Air Peace.
It is one of the most preferred airlines for the lucrative Lagos-Abuja routes because of its scheduled reliability.
‘Surpasses average domestic flight’
Chidozie Uzoezie, an aviation analyst and CEO of The Afritraveller, was on Ibom Air flight QI0602 from Lagos to Enugu on 24 October, 2021, and here is how he rated the flight which was his first with the airline: Check in: 85 percent, Boarding: 80 percent, Punctuality: 90 percent, Aircraft: 90 percent, Crew: 90 percent, In-flight service: 80 percent, Flight: 95 percent, and Seat comfort: 95 percent.
The aircraft was a CRJ-900LR.
“Most of my expectations were met and even exceeded, especially with respect to punctuality, crew and the actual flight,” Mr Uzoezie said in his review of the flight.
“Speaking in relative terms, the flight was everything I had expected, it surpassed the average domestic flight in Nigeria. And I’ll definitely fly with Ibom Air again,” he added.
Mr Uzoezie gave a description of the aircraft cabin.
“This particular aircraft (with registration number 5N-BWK) was delivered to Ibom Air in 2019. It is configured with 90 seats in an all-economy class layout.
“The aircraft cabin was very clean, and smacked of freshness as I stepped onboard. And my first impressions were those of comfort, elegance, and luxury. My seat was 12D – a window seat – which I had deliberately selected during online check-in to help me put my avgeek skills to good use,” he said.
“With a four abreast configuration in a 2-2 layout, the CRJ-900 is one of the most comfortable narrow body aircraft in the skies today. I didn’t get to measure the seat dimensions, but the aircraft offered impressive seat width and generous leg room, better than the industry standard.
“The legroom was so generous that I could cross my legs in-flight without space constraints. And to make good things even better, the seats were made of leather, taking seat comfort to another level.”
Many Nigerians are really talking about Ibom Air. They are happily helping to amplify the beautiful experiences shared by the airline passengers.
A Twitter user, Nayomi (@Naayoomee) said in June that she went for Ibom Air after her Lagos-Abuja flight on another airline was rescheduled from 3p.m. to 9p.m.
“I went down and got Ibom Air, best flight I ever had. Didn’t even know when we landed. I rate them five (5) stars,” she tweeted.
Oluwole Dada (@oluwole_dada), a sales and marketing expert, said on Twitter that from a minor survey, Ibom Air is the best domestic airline when it comes to punctuality.
“Many of the (other) airlines delay flights with no regard for the customers,” he said. “They care less if they (passengers) have an appointment or business engagement.”
Kate Nanyongo (@KateNanyongo), a Cameroonian, said she had a “wonderful experience” on her first visit to Nigeria, courtesy of Ibom Air.
She said she could not stop telling people about Ibom Air when she got back to Cameroon.