By Emeka Samuel, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State government has acquired three aircrafts into the fleet of Ibom Airline Company in a renewed bid to boost the economy of the state.
It has also said that the new airline would have an employment capacity of 400 direct and indirect jobs for indigenes and non indigenes in the first phase of its operations expected to commence ‘very soon’.
Commissioner for Special Duties and Aviation Development, Mr. Akan Okon told journalists in Uyo yesterday that the recruitment process for the airline wholly owned by Akwa Ibom government has been concluded, with an Akwa Ibom son as Chief Pilot.
“Ibom Air has come to stay. I am happy to tell you that we have completed recruitment with good number of Akwa Ibom children. The Chief Pilot is from Akwa Ibom. Three aircrafts are secured and are ready for commencement of operation.
” It is completely owned and operated by Akwa Ibom State Government and it will provide 400 direct and indirect jobs.” Okon said
The commissioner explained that though the airline is owned by Akwa Ibom government, its management and operations would align professionally with world best practices adding that staff of the new airline, recruited strictly on merit are currently undergoing training in their various areas of specialties, getting set to kick start operations as soon as required formalities are concluded.
He attributed the state government’s success in this direction to governor Udom Emmanuel whom he said has consistently made what may appear impossible to others, a possibility in the state.
Okon also applauded the Director of Air Worthiness of the Nigerian Aviation Authority, Engr Ita Awak for his role in ensuring ease of operations and the actualization of the purpose for which Ibom Airport was established, despite belonging to the opposition APC.
“Some Akwa Ibom sons in positions of authority have been very very supportive, prominent among these is the Director of Air Worthiness, Engr Ita Awak who has worked so hard to ensure that the MRO becomes a reality, he believes such development will benefit Akwa Ibom children, and so he is not after political party, he is about the development of Akwa Ibom State, we sincerely commend him.” He said
The Commissioner maintained that the heavy traffic in Akwa Ibom airport has made it imperative for the state government to join the few airlines operating therein adding that Ibom Airline would at the moment operate within Uyo-Lagos- Abuja routes.
Though expressing disappointment that the Victor Attah International Airport remain the only one solely managed by any state government, he said that the present administration is however working to improve the standard of the airport with the ongoing second runway, new taxiway, a power sub-station, new commercial building and other unique features.
Such improvements, he said made it possible for the landing of over 20 aircrafts in the President’s entourage during the flag off of the APC presidential campaigns in Akwa Ibom for the south south region.
Having attracted over 13 new industries to the state, Okon said Governor Udom Emmanuel in addition to improving the state of the airport and provision of Ibom Airline has also ensured ease of movement across the state through the constriction of over 1700km road network to take investors from the airport to all parts of the state with ease.
To further provide office accommodation for IOCs and other investors attracted by the present administration, the Special Duties Commissioner hinted that the ongoing 21 storey smart building, currently at the 14th floor would ensure operational offices for investors to thrive.
In addition to a functional airport, good road network, comfortable accommodation and other features to ensure an investor friendly state, Okon said the state government has also ensured massive renovation of secondary healthcare facilities to ensure that every federal constituency in the state is all-round-investor-friendly.
“Six hospitals have been remodeled to world class standard in three and a half years. We should keep supporting him to do more for Akwa State from 2019 during his 2nd term as Governor of Akwa Ibom State”.
“So far the Ministry of Special Duties and Aviation Development has constructed quite a number of roads including the access road to Four-Point by Sheraton in Ikot Ekpene, Okpolupm Etteh – Inyang Etor -Dorothy Road in Ibeno, Ubong Obot Road in Uyo and the taxiway in Victor Attah International Airport.” He said