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A NEW ENTRANT ENTERS THE SKIES – Passengers Give Their Initial Assessment

By: Imaobong Abia

Te Nigerian aviation sector has had its fair share of ups and downs in recent years. The emergence of private sector participation coupled with the inconvenience of long road travels has meant that patronage for air travel has seen an astronomical rise. A number of early operators like Bellview, Kabo, ADC and Chanchangi airlines have all fizzled out of business. In their place, a handful of airlines have taken to the Nigerian skies with varying degrees of success.

An Air hostess attending to passengers

Just a few weeks ago, a new airline made a silent but bold entry into the Nigerian aviation industry. Ibom Air, owned by the Akwa Ibom state government commenced operations out of the Victor Attah International airport in Uyo. The airline presently plies the Lagos, Abuja and Uyo routes at an irresistible introductory price of just N15,000(Fifteen Thousand Naira) only. Ibom Air however comes with much more than a cheap fare. Passengers on its flights have testified on several outstanding features of the airline ranging from smooth flights to unique In-flight services.

The airline’s fully digital customer services go beyond easy online bookings and check-ins. Ibom Air is the first local airline to employ the use of digital scanners to board its passengers and thereby ensures a drastic reduction in the time normally lost when passengers are boarded manually. The airline is also gaining a lot rave reviews for its strict adherence to prompt departures; the only exceptions of course being during instances of inclement weather conditions.

Twenty-two year old Doris Emmanuel, who recently flew the Abuja-Uyo route summed up her exciting In-flight experience by saying 11 love the clean fresh look of the aircraft interior. Surely their planes are new and the smartly- dressed cabin crew readily offe red me friendly smiles and genuine care throughout the flight. Farouk Ibrahim who has been a frequent flier for years on local Nigerian routes particularly pointed out his” love for the cute table water bottle and special packing of passenger snacks that make them look like souvenirs!”.

Passengers awaiting boarding
Passengers awaiting boarding

Like in every other business venture, new entrants like Ibom Air are bound to invest on impressing customers at
the onset of operations but to the discerning client what the airline has put out so far appears like steady baby steps. Those steps may not be enough for an industry filled with stiff competition. For starters, there is a compelling need for fleet and route expansion for them to have a big bite into the chunk of passenger traffic Perhaps the management of Ibom Air is bent on proving that state governments can profitably and creditably run business enterprises such as airlines services. The impressive take-off of Ibom Air will no doubt challenge other states to start thinking out similar internally- generating concepts.

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