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Saturday, February 22, 2020


Emmanuel Nicholas

Obong Victor Attah, the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State had the vision of promoting Aviation business in the State.

He started by building an Airport with Hanger. Sadly, many fought against this vision with argument of the proximity of Margarete Ekpo International Airport to Akwa Ibom State.

Obong Attah was criticised and insulted. Some political opponents even termed the project as a white elephant project designed to siphon funds.

Obong Attah understanding the economic value aviation industry could add to the GDP of the State became unperturbed about his critics and laid the foundation for the take off of the Airport.

As a capital intensive project that it was, he couldn't complete the project at the expiration of his two term in office.

Chief Godswill Akpabio assumed office and made the Airport Project one of his cardinal objective that must be achieved. Three years after, the Airport was completed and commissioned for use and today Obong Victor Attah international Airport has three times the traffic of Calabar Airport.

The people who fought against the establishment of an Airport in Akwa Ibom State were ignorant that aviation industry supports $2.7 trillion (3.6%) of the world's gross domestic product (GDP). This simply mean that if aviation were to be a country, it would rank 20th in size by GDP. That equates to the GDP of Switzerland or Argentina.

Those naysayers should have also known that Air transport facilitates international trade particularly for valuables and perishable good across Africa Thus, in a time like this that Governor Udom Emmanuel is working around the clock to transform Akwa Ibom State from a core civil service State to a private sector driven economy, without the  Airport it would have been a difficult task to encourage investors to come to the State and invest without an Airport.

There is no gainsaying that no investor with his funds will wish to be punished traveling through the death trap of Calabar- Itu Highway to come and invest in Akwa Ibom State.

Hence, considerably, aviation market is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades. By 2036, global air transport is forecasted by experts to support 97.8 million jobs and contribute $5.7 trillion to global economy.

It is worthy of note that Governor Udom  Emmanuel's administration also took aviation business in Akwa Ibom State beyond the building of an Airport and record the great feat of being the first State in Nigeria to own and operate an Airline business.

Ibom Air with three Aircrafts in the first hundred days of operation had recorded well over fifty thousand passengers, from the calculations of economists, the Airline made well over 1billion naira in just 100 days.

Away from the direct income from Ibom Air, today one who is an entrepreneur in Akwa Ibom can go for a business trip in Lagos or Abuja and come back the same day. In the same vein, investors coming to Akwa Ibom State no more witness lack of  flight to visit the State as when the need arises.

What is more, Ibom Air has also contributed in boosting the tourism sub-sector. This is because tourism and aviation businesses are interwoven. One simply cannot function without the other. 

Imagine a Golf player who resides in Abuja or Lagos intend to play golf at Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort, he will definitely need an efficient transport system to take him to his destination.

Likewise a tourist who wishes to travel in from United States of America to watch Ekpo Masquerade in Ibesikpo Asutan or Ekpe Cultual Display in Uruan, needs a clean Air transport system like Ibom Air to fulfil his desires.

The vision of Governor Udom Emmanuel  in the development of aviation - Economy in the State is to provide Obong Victor Attah international Airport befitting image of an international Airport , by building an international terminal  and a brand new taxi way. How heartwarming it is to note that the two projects are  now ongoing.

Another Governor Udom's vision for Ibom Air is to make the Airline an international Air transport company, with both domestic and international routes,  hence hinging  the economy of the State not only on oil and Industralization but also on Aviation sub-sector.

Before leaving office, Governor Udom Emmanuel administration has planned to acquire a total of 10  Aircraft for Ibom Air. The administration will also build an aviation school for the training of Akwa Ibom people to become  professionals in Aviation business  management. 

Governor Udom Emmanuel is not losing sight in realizing the MRO vision of Obong Victor Attah for the State Airport. He is looking forward to sign Memorandum of understanding with famous Airline companies across the world to ensure the hanger will not be a capital flight project but an income earner for the State.

In making sure Ibom Air provide a world class Air Transport services to it passengers, Governor Udom Emmanuel employed the services of professionals who made Ethiopian Airline one of the best in the world today.

The productivity of this can be seen in testimonies of Ibom Air  passengers, all over the social media, Commuters who patronises the Airline testify everyday that Ibom Air is the most cleanness, has the most friendly professional staff in Nigeria, coupled with qualitative landing and take off.

Above all, they applaud Ibom Air timely fight schedule, no delays, no rescheduling nor cancellation of flights.

To this end, it is a fact that the aviation industry is a catalyst for socioeconomic development in both developing and developed nations. It provides the fastest and safest means of transportation of people and cargo locally and internationally, thereby promoting commerce and industry.

The aviation industry supports 65.5 million jobs around the world, either directly within the industry or, supported through the industry's supply chain, employees' spending and in the aviation-enabled tourism sector.

Around 10.2 million people work in the aviation industry directly. These jobs are:

Airport operators: 525,000 (work for the airport operator) Other airport-based roles: 5.6 million (retail, car rental, customs and immigration, freight forwarders and catering) Airlines: 2.7 million (flight and cabin crews, executives, ground services, check-in, training, maintenance staff)

Civil aerospace: 1.2 million (engineers and designers of civil aircraft, engines and components)

Air navigation service providers: 233,000 (air traffic controllers, executives) These jobs are, on average, 4.4 times more productive than average jobs in the economy

So with Ibom Air and others Aviation businesses in the State, more 10,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created.

With Governor Udom Emmanuel's  administration commitment to aviation development in State, it is a clear sign that in the nearest future, Ibom Air will be a world class Airline like Ethiopian Airways.

Ethiopian Airlines is the largest airline in Africa and one of the few airlines turning in great profit in the continent. In the financial year 2017/2018, Ethiopian Airlines made profits of $245m (£187m) and has the record to fly 10.6 million people  annually.

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