Monday, May 17, 2021 6:44 am
Ibom Air, Fred Chukwulobe
By Fred Chukwulobe
If you’re a frequent flyer, locally, you may have experienced disruptions in your appointments due to frequent cancellation, impromptu rescheduling of flights by airlines. Frustrating, isn’t it?
A particular airline had been my favourite and I have got a couple of free tickets from accumulated mileage. But I have also suffered from cancellation of flights and abrupt rescheduling, which have impacted badly on my scheduled appointments. It did appear as if such was the norm in our aviation industry until recently.
My friend, Okey, had been telling me of Ibom Air owned by Akwa Ibom State. (They started operations in 2019 and have 5 airctat with an average age of 10.8 years). Okey told me that they’re punctual, courteous and efficient. I said, in which country? He was adamant. So, I decided to give them a try.
I flew Ibom Air Lagos – Enugu return at the weekend. Because Okey had warned me that they’re sticklers to punctuality; that they’re likely to depart before scheduled time, I decided to leave early and stay at the airport. A flight scheduled for 7:50am left at 7:45am, 5 minutes before time. I didn’t feel excited. No bi Naija? The counter closes 40 minutes to departure. And so?
Enugu – Lagos: the flight time was 13:30 hours. The flight left 13:15 hours, 15 minutes before scheduled departure. One passenger almost didn’t make it because he came to the airport at 13:00 hours, hoping that since he had his boarding pass printed by a helper, he’d just stroll in and fasten his seat belt. For where! He was told the counter had closed. He begged and because he already had his boarding pass, he was asked to provide his ID and board. Hmmmmmm.
It was a smooth flight. The staff were very courteous. The announcements from the flight deck (cockpit) and from the lead purser were clear and audible. The air-conditioning worked, but the landing was not particularly smooth. Maybe because of the equipment they’re using – they use Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft and they have five of them. It is a smaller aircraft that carries about 50 passengers as against the Boeing 737 deployed by major airlines like Airpeace, which carries about 150 passengers a trip. Airpeace, United Nigeria Airlines also have Bombardier aircraft.
Anyway, my experience with Ibom Air is worth sharing. When we landed, trust me, I had to tell the crew to ensure the promptness and commendable services are not compromised. “We have been doing so for a long time”, was the response from one of the crew members. I hope so.
I’d like Ibom Air to acquire bigger aircraft to compete with the “Big Boys” in the industry. We, the travelling public, will be the biggest beneficiaries. I’d advise them not to compromise over time. Arik Air used to be the lead airline doing similar things. Aero was also like that until wind blew…fly them today at your own peril.
The truth of the matter is that, when planes are on time, we are on time with our businesses and appointments. It is mutually beneficial. That’s how businesses are supposed to be conducted. It has not been so in our clime and it needs to be emphasised that it kills businesses and it is sad.
I still love my Airpeace. I’d still fly them. But It has to be when I’m not in a hurry to keep an appointment. I also hope that Ibom Air will give them a run for their money and the industry will be better for it. Competition brings out the best in businesses, not the monopoly of Dangote. Hahahahahaha.
For now, Ibom Air, na una get this hand, as we say in local parlance.
-Fred Chukwulobe is a journalist, public relations consultant and public affairs analyst.