After a year of commencing flight operations in Nigeria, one of the new domestic carriers in the aviation industry, United Nigeria Airlines has said the airline flew over 260,000 passengers to their destinations peacefully, comfortably and safely operating 40 daily flights.
Chairman/CEO, United Nigeria Airlines, Dr Obiora Okonkwo, stated this at a press conference organised by the airline, in commemoration of the airline’s 1st anniversary.
The airline has also increased their fleet from an initial 4 Embraer 145 aircraft to include one Airbus A320.
Noting that the figure represents 75 percent of their total capacity, Dr Okonkwo recalled that United Nigeria Airlines took off in February reaching Lagos, Abuja, Enugu and Asaba after demo flights in January 2021.
According to the CEO, the airline opened up the Owerri and Port Harcourt wings and in May, responded to demand by creating additional flights to Lagos and Abuja.
“We hit Yenagoa in July becoming the only airline operating into Bayelsa International Airport. We further responded to high demand on the Owerri, Asaba and Enugu routes by creating additional flights to those airports in November and in December, we started flying into the newly built Anambra Cargo Airport at Umueri. Through this, we have created over 500 direct jobs and more than a thousand indirect jobs.
“We are now in the process of expanding our domestic operations to reach, in the next few weeks, Benin, Kano, Jigawa and Yola. These are part of our immediate expansion programme as we work to ensure that none of our aircraft remains on ground. They belong to the skies and that is where they must be.”
On the airlines vision, Dr Okonkwo reiterated that the airline’s vision remains, to satisfactorily serve the public and become noted for on-time departure.
“In fact, that should be our signature. We know that there are constrains, natural, technical and human that affect on-time departure. While we cannot take adequate control of the natural factors, we shall do our best to keep the technical and human reasons under check. Like I had said previously, it is because of my unflinching faith in the unity and potential greatness of this country that I named the airline United Nigeria with the slogan flying to unite,” he emphasised.
Dr Okonkwo assured that the airline has the intention to increase the fleet and add wider body aircraft, adding that, within the next 12 months, he sees airline doubling the number of their fleets with larger passenger capacity aircraft.
The airline operator enumerated several challenges faced by domestic airlines to include, high cost of fuel, attitude of passengers, weather related challenges, forex and the fact that over 80 per cent of airports in Nigeria operate sunset regime, a situation that has reduced the time frame each of the airlines can operate.
Commending other aviation stakeholders, Okonkwo said “We have also worked as close as possible with the regulatory agencies: Ministry of Aviation, the NCAA which has been working so hard, FAAN, NAMA etc to sustain a very robust working relationship. We are very happy and proud of their efforts to strengthen and improve things in the aviation industry.”