In this interview at the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) Stakeholders’ Forum held in Lagos recently, the acting managing director of Obong Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo, Mr. Uwem Ekanem spoke on the developments that have taken place at the airport since 2009 when the facility was unveiled.
MRO component and completion
There is the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) component of the airport; there is also the cargo facility. The MRO has not yet come on stream. We are still looking for investors to come in. Once investors come in, activities will commence. Of course, we have to complete it; it is not complete yet. The government is still shopping for investors. If the airlines are coming as investors and they have capacity they are welcomed.
We are running the commercial service. We have an average of 20, 000 passenger traffic monthly. We are getting there. The airport has a gestation period. Once we have all the components in place we can say the airport is on the path of viability.
Yes, the state (Aka Ibom) is about to launch an airline. The aircraft are already on the ground. The airline will take off as soon as the necessary documentations are completed. In the aviation industry when it comes to an airline it is a serious business. Remember that Ibom Airline is a limited liability which is run like Arik Air, Air Peace; we are an aerodrome operator, I won’t speak for Ibom Air. But I know we are awaiting the completion of the necessary documentation.
When we talk of partnership, you will recall that at the start of commercial operations there is usually what we call route development. The state government partnered with Dana to develop the route. Once that was done, when the period slated for it was completed Dana commenced full operations. So, that partnership was just for route development. And it took just two to three months and the route was already established.
Growth of the airport
The airport has grown over the years; there have been lots of tremendous improvements. Passenger traffic has grown. We believe that there is a lot of potential at the airport. The focus now is on sustainability; it has been 10 years down the line. So you look at sustainability, growing your revenue. Things are looking up. We are very optimistic, especially with the coming of those services that will be required by passengers. The future is bright.
Non-aeronautical revenue sources
All of that is work in progress. Very soon the airport will be on the path to sustainability and profitability. When you visit the airport you will notice that there have been tremendous improvements since the present administration came on board. There is a commercial hub in place. In the near future, we are looking at a cargo facility; we are also looking at a terminal building. There are lots of activities at the airport.
The airport’s personnel are well trained. The government has spent a lot on training. Training in the industry is an ongoing process. It is the focus of this administration when it comes to human capacity building. You can even see that from the various training programmes the government has embarked upon.