The Chief Operating Officer of Ibom Air, George Uriesi, said addressing the capital-intensive nature of aircraft financing would require support from commercial banks.
Uriesi’s remarks came during the celebration of the successful closure of commercial financing for Ibom Air’s inaugural A220 aircraft, delivered in November 2023.
It was a tripartise deal that involved Zenith Bank, one of Nigeria’s largest financial services providers, and Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer.
Ibom Air COO said the partnership underscored the significance of synergies between regional banks and the aviation sector in overcoming the financial challenges associated with acquiring and expanding aircraft fleets.
Uriesi commented, “Aircraft financing is a collaborative effort and the support of regional banks is pivotal. This synergy fosters a sustainable aviation ecosystem, allowing us to soar higher and drive positive socioeconomic impact in Nigeria and the broader continent.
“Nigeria is widely recognised as the African market with the highest growth potential and we aim to be at the forefront of that growth.”
He said the historic collaboration also represented the bank’s commitment to aircraft financing.
Securing adequate funding poses a significant hurdle for African carriers due to less favourable conditions compared to other regions.
So, airlines encounter challenges in acquiring and executing renewal and expansion initiatives.
According to the Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the roles of commercial banks as economic enablers are paramount.
“We also understand how important the aviation sector is to facilitating economic growth in Nigeria and across the broader African continent. This landmark agreement solidifies our commitment to supporting regional carriers and advancing the landscape of African aviation financing,” he remarked.
According to the 2023 Airbus Global Market Forecast, airlines serving Nigeria will require nearly 160 passenger and freight aircraft in the next two decades.
This includes 131 single-aisle aircraft such as the A220, A320 families, and 28 widebody aircraft such as the A330 and A350 families.
The Head of Customer Finance Airbus, Boris Sakrauski, said, “Over the past five years, more than 60 Airbus aircraft were delivered to the African continent via lessors and various financing structures. We are thrilled to now have Zenith Bank in the arena of new Airbus aircraft financiers.