By Yunus Yusuf
The United Nigeria Airlines has unveiled plans to acquire lands from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to set up its own Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) facility in Enugu State.
Its Chairman, Dr Obiora Okonkwo, unveiled the airline’s plans at an interactive session with members of the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos on Wednesday.
The United Nigeria Airlines began its operations eight weeks ago.
Okonkwo said that the facility, when established, would serve the airline and others, both domestically and in the sub-region.
He said: “We are in a process of acquiring land space from FAAN to set up our MRO since our base is in Enugu.
“We want to establish it there, in Enugu, and we have given ourselves 24 months to start doing our own C-Check in our facility.
“However, because we are in the process of getting the land, we are already two months behind schedule,” he said.
The chairman said the airline was already in talks with foreign partners, adding that those talks had reached an advanced stage.
He said the airline was in for the long haul, and that was why the airline was building capacity in-house to handle A-Checks 1A-3A.
Okonkwo said it was negotiating for two additional Embraer ERJ145 aircraft to help its consolidation plans on the domestic route and to procure a bigger aircraft soon to aid in strengthening its all round operations.
Explaining the bold moves, he said the Embraer 145 for the airline was a good fit, especially with regards to fuel efficiency, load factor and breaking even.
The chairman, however, said the airline, in the near future, might consider a bigger aircraft.
He said: “The ERJ 145 is a good fuel efficient aircraft, and we are negotiating an additional two Embraers and we will use that to consolidate on our entire routes.
“As you know, after we do that, we will go for a bigger aircraft. The Embraer is a good fuel efficient aircraft, but we need a bigger aircraft for baggage.
“We have gone through due diligence before we earmarked the ERJ as choice of aircraft and the fuel utilisation is a huge advantage.
“It may surprise you to know that the evening we got our Air Operators Certificate (AOC), we opened our portal and the first flight within 12 hours we have full passenger load.”
Okonkwo noted that the airline had transported 25,000 passengers with an average of 3,200 passengers weekly since it began operations eight weeks ago.
Commenting, Mr Linus Awute, Director of Administration of the airline, said the airline was trying to grow organically.
Awute added that it did not mistake its recent successes in passenger traffic for the norms and that was why it had not immediately introduced more aircraft. (NAN)
•PHOTO: United Nigeria Airlines Chairman, Dr Obiora Okonkwo