Nigeria’s fastest-growing airline, Ibom Air is very close to inking a deal with European aircraft maker Airbus to buy 10 A220 jets. This was disclosed on Sunday at the Dubai Airshow.  The official announcement of the order, according to a source close to the carrier, will be on Tuesday November 16.

It is expected that the Governor of Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel, the Chief Executive Officer, Ibom Air, Capt. Mfon Udom, Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Air, Mr. George Uriesi, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Company, Guillaume Faury, and top officials of Airbus company will attend the announcement.

Although neither Airbus nor Ibom had given the cost of the ten aircraft order, the last published price for an A220-300 in 2018 was $91.5 million at the time.  Airbus no longer publishes list prices for aircraft.  The fleet will enable Ibom Air’s plans to become a dominant carrier in Nigeria, West, and Central Africa, with strong growth since its operations began two years ago.

Two of the ten A220-300 airplanes would be delivered to the airline first quarter of 2023, while all the ten aircraft would be delivered in 2024.  The two A220 currently wet-leased from Egypt Air would be returned to the North African country at the expiration of the lease agreement in June 2022.  Ibom Air plans to dry-lease two aircraft to quickly replace the two that would be returned back to Egypt Air next year in June and operate them until the first two newly ordered planes are delivered in 2023.

Governor Udom had on Saturday said that the state planned to add 10 additional A220-300 series aircraft to the fleet of Ibom Air.  He revealed the plan when he spoke at an event marking the 85th birthday of Obong Etim Abia, the Paramount Ruler of Eket in Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, Nigeria.  “As I am leaving here, we are signing fresh agreements that will give us 10 brand new A220-300 Airbus, so that even when I leave office, it will remain an enduring legacy,’’ he said.

Two wet-leased A220s from Egypt Air

Ibom Air had wet-leased two new A220 jets from Egypt Air to bridge capacity gaps in Nigeria’s aviation sector.  The carrier chose to bridge the urgent capacity gap by wet-leasing the two jets as a stop-gap measure on June 30, 2021. The two wet-leased Airbus A220 aircraft have already been deployed, bringing the much-needed capacity, more comfort, enhanced safety, and increased reliability to the domestic air travel market.

Inking a deal for ten new aircraft is the result of the airline’s decision to fast-track its fleet development plan.   This was in response to a surge in passenger numbers, which stretched the capacity of its CRJ900 fleet to the maximum.  After the successful market reception to the A220-300, the carrier is right-sizing its fleet to meet growing demand in the African marketplace.

While its fleet of Bombardier CRJ900s did a splendid job powering the airline during its start-up phase, higher demand forced Ibom Air to adjust its business strategy and fast-track move to higher capacity aircraft. With the introduction of ten new A220-300s, this capacity squeeze will be clearly addressed.

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