Uyo Victor Attah International Airport in Akwa Ibom State, the base of state-government-owned Ibom Air, was the ground for the carrier to finally welcome its first Airbus A220-300 home at the weekend.
Ibom Air has been anticipating the delivery of this first A220 for over half a year. It was expected to arrive in Q12023, but delivery was delayed due to production issues. The public first caught a glimpse of the jet in Ibom’s colours after it was rolled out of the paint shop at Airbus’ A220 production facility in Mirabel, Canada.
It was officially handed over to the airline’s officials on November 24 at a ceremony attended by president and CEO of Airbus Canada, Benoît Schultz, chief executive officer of Ibom Air, Mfon Udom, and other officials from both companies. The aircraft finally departed the factory and arrived home, where hundreds of spectators gathered to see its first touchdown in the state.
The Akwa Ibom governor highlighted that the continued investment in the airline and new aircraft will enhance connectivity between the state and other parts of the country. The aviation sector is set to play a crucial role in the state’s development. Commenting on the handing over of the aircraft in Mirabel, Mfon Udom said,
“The introduction of the Airbus A220-300 to our fleet is a game-changing leap forward for Ibom Air. The decision to invest in a fleet of highly efficient brand-new aircraft to power our growth plans underscores our determination to offer no less than world-class airline services to our valued customers.”
The journey from Mirabel
According to data from Flightradar24, the aircraft performed three test flights in November, with registration C-FOYA at Montreal Mirabel International Airport (YMX) before the official handover. It eventually took the registration 5N-CDA ahead of its delivery to the Nigerian carrier.
The journey from the production facility started in the early hours of December 6. Operating flight QI640, the A220 departed Mirabel at 05:26 and flew to Toulouse (TLS), arriving at 20:00 local time. It then left Toulouse as flight QI641 on December 7 and made its way to Abuja (ABV), Nigeria, where it landed at 04:15. At around 10:25 local time, 5N-CDA started the final leg of its journey, flying from Abuja to Uyo, where it landed at 11:15.
While this is the first A220 owned by a Nigerian carrier, Ibom Air previously operated two of the type, wet-leased from Egyptair. It flew the single-aisle jets for a year to test their suitability for its operations. Within six months, the airline realised that the A220 was the right aircraft to support its domestic and regional aspirations.
Ibom Air currently serves six domestic and one international destinations with a fleet of five CRJ900s, one A220-300, and one A320-200 wet-leased from Latvia’s GetJet Airlines. Ibom launched its first international route between Lagos (LOS) and Accra (ACC) with the CRJ in October 2023. The carrier might increase capacity on the route, deploying the A220 if demand outgrows the CRJ.
The -300 is the larger member of the A220 family and is tailored to fit the 120-160-seat market. Known for its quiet and comfortable cabin, the single-aisle jet will allow Ibom to offer its customers an enhanced travel experience and continue delivering the excellent service that has made it one of Nigeria’s most reliable carriers.
—With Simple Flying reports