Joe Effiong, Uyo
The chairman of Akwa Ibom State-owned Ibom Air, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, has sensationally disclosed that attempt to acquire two new aircraft to boost the airline last year was thwarted by the activities of cybercriminals commonly called ‘Yahoo Boys’.
Speaking with Daily Sun in Uyo, Nkanga said the agency that was handling the contract for the purchase of the aircraft suddenly jettisoned it when it was revealed that most the cybercriminals in the world are from Nigeria, thus delaying the purchase of the planes.
“We were expected by October to add two more aircraft to make it five. We did that because we were expecting the Yuletide, and we know that there would be more passengers. But I have to let you know either by September or thereabout when the FBI in the US published that there were about 80 people in the cyber fraud business and that 77 came from Nigeria.
“So, the finance house which we were working with – because you cannot just go and put money and say you are buying aircraft because of money laundry – said they could expose themselves to Nigeria, and at the nick of time we lost it. So, we had to start all over again.”
Nkanga, however, said the company has overcome that challenge and has still acquired the two aircraft which are being branded at the moment to be unveiled in the state very soon to still boost the Ibom Air fleet to five and expand its aviation business.
Maintaining that the state has invested a lot in the aviation business as an alternative to boost the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Nkanga said since the beginning of operations in June, the airline has made about 3,000 flights, even as the routes have been increased to three as Abuja-Lagos and Lagos-Abuja has been added to the existing Uyo Lagos and Uyo-Abuja routes.
“We have done enough to make on-time departure and we have made about 97percent on-time departure,” he stated.
He hinted that before 2023 the Ibom Air fleet would increase to 10 aircraft so that it could expand the domestic, regional and international routes, adding that the coming of Ibom Air has brought a substantial economic improvement, adding that the coming of Ibom Air has brought a substantial economic improvement.
On challenges faced by the company, the chairman said they were mainly the issue of approvals from the federal government agencies which have seen the airline as an Akwa Ibom thing irrespective of its operating nationally.