• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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Zenith Bank, Ibom Air, Airbus seal deal for new A220 aircraft

How Akwa Ibom is emerging as  regional aviation hub

Zenith Bank, joined hands with Ibom Air and Airbus to mark the successful closure of commercial financing for Ibom Air’s inaugural A220 aircraft, received in November 2023.

In a statement made available to BusinessDay on Thursday, Zenith Bank said this achievement not only underscores the bank’s dedication to aircraft financing but also symbolises a significant stride forward for the aviation sector across the continent.

The teamwork of Ibom Air and Zenith Bank, helped by Airbus, suggests a growing trend to boost Africa’s aviation industry with crucial financial support.

“At Zenith Bank, we know how important the role financial institutions play in acting as economic enablers,” said Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the bank’s group managing director. “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.”

Onyeagwu added that getting enough funding is a big problem for African airlines. Compared to other regions, it’s harder for African airlines to get good financing. So, they struggle to fund their plans for growth and improvement.

George Uriesi, Ibom Air’s Chief Operating Officer, was excited about the closure and said, “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 socio-economic 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.”

According to the 2023 Airbus Global Market Forecast (GMF), 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 and A320 families and 28 widebody aircraft such as the A330 and A350 families.

“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,” said Boris Sakrauski, Head of Customer Finance at Airbus.

“We hope that its involvement in the sector sends a powerful signal to other banks and financial institutions in Nigeria and across the continent about the exciting potential of the African aviation sector.”