Ibom Air: My all in one Experience in 12 hours
By Essien Ndueso
My appointment was for 9am at The Sheraton Hotels, Lagos on Thursday July 4, but I had an urgent meeting as well back home in Uyo by 8pm, same day. The meeting was so important that a second thought of cancelling the trip to Lagos, crept into my mind.
The Lagos trip was in pursuit of a Mandatory Continuous Development Programme by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, a major requisite for practising Public Relations professionals. I had already paid for the NIPR course and had the idea of cancelling the trip and missing the opportunity of being refreshed by renowned experts in the field did not sit well with me. Under Governor Udom Emmanuel, capacity development among young people is a vital ingredient in gearing for the massive investments and opportunities springing up in the state. So no matter the level one finds himself, it is pertinent to get armed with the latest trend in career growth, to fit seamlessly in a dynamic global environment.
Fortunately, there is an Ibom Air, barely a month old in commercial activities, the whole essence of the all in One Day concept by promoters of Ibom Air, resonated in me. The flight was scheduled for 7:30am on July 4. Thursday morning came, but it was quite a rainy day, and I drove down to the airport leaving Uyo about 7.02am. As I drove down, I recalled how a highly placed government official had been denied his flight, after he’d arrived 3 minutes later than the scheduled time for boarding. I knew I was in trouble, so I marched the pedals with more energy, and despite the slippery road, usually described as Okro experience by commercial motorists, fortunately I made it to the Bombardier CJ900 series, one of the aircrafts in the airline’s fleet in Akwa Ibom.
Most times people complain that it is not a wise idea to leave one’s home too early and that for such a long journey, breakfast should come first. With Ibom Air this notion is not an issue, because once airborne, two delicious cupcakes, a cup of tea, a glass of fruit juice and water, could replace whatever breakfast the comfort of your dining table would have offered on a cold Thursday morning. That much I was offered.
By the way did I tell you about the neatness of the aircraft? It was not necessarily out of immodesty that the management of the airline described it as the newest set of aircrafts in the Nigerian Air space.
The alluring fresh air, the comfort of the seats, neatness, what a comfort zone.
Need I tell you that the airline has no room for ‘discrimination’ as there is no veil that demarcates economy and the first five seats for the business class, giving an atmosphere that everyone is treated like a very important personality.
The aircraft took off at about 7:35am with the pilot apologizing for the late take-off, even when to me by Nigerian standards it was rather timely. By 8:30am I was already on the apron of the domestic wing of MM2 Airport, Lagos.
By 9:00am I was the first to arrive at the Sheraton Hotels venue of the course, which featured over 35 participants drawn from all parts of the country. It was a forum for a cross fertilization of ideas as we discussed ways of professional best practices in handling of crises situations, especiallu in the age of the social media. Obviously, our case studies were the topical issues in the headlines and the role played by the new media in heightening the damages or helping to address the anomalies. Be it COZA, RUGA, or the Slapping Senator, we cracked our brains on how professionals have been shoved aside Nigeria, while quacks man PR departments in private and public organisations giving room for misguided approaches in managing the relationship between organisations and their publics. Eddy Ademosu and Kunle Ogedengbe, renowned experts and brand managers did brilliantly and there was so much engagement that no one noticed that time had really been far spent.
At about 3:30pm while the course was reaching a crescendo, virtually all the participants, most of who came in from different parts of the country, started discussing in hush tones where they will spend the night.
Those who chatted with me on this were surprised that I was going back to Uyo same day, “And you just came in today,” they quipped? I disclosed to them the magic of Ibom Air, made possible by a leader who thinks ahead for his people.
The evening flight was for 5:45pm. By 4: 30pm, I was still in a cap en-route the airport, unfortunately navigation from Mobalaji Anthony way, in a taxi cost me 35mins within a distance of 2miles, no thanks to the usual Lagos rush hour jam. When it appeared that relying on the cab might make me lose my flight, I called the Ibom Air desk office in Uyo hoping to find out if the flight may have been delayed by any Nigerian factor. “Sir, that plane left Uyo 25 minutes ago, if you miss it Utak o, it was a promo ticket of 15,000 and there is no roll over or refund, so try and hurry up” she responded.
I was forced to alight from the cab and mount a motorcycle. After explaining my situation to the bike man, he asked “So Oboy what time be your flight?”
“It is for 5:30pm” I replied
“So nah him you been dey balance since for inside cab,” he scorned, while manoeuvring, overtaking, navigating with speed and cursing car drivers who failed to adhere to his warnings. At some point, it appeared he was more interested in reaching the airport, than in the safety of his passenger. With my two hands clinging to my documents, it was really impossible to hold any part of the motorcycle, as it jumped on bumps, climbed road medians, ascended the walkways and descended at short notice.
Luckily, I arrived at the airport just in time to hear the first boarding call for the Uyo trip. I walked into the same aircraft I used in the morning. The airhost, Diji, was quick to recognize me, “That was quite a very brief trip sir,” he smiled.
“You people made it so” I answered with a grin.
Inside the plane the confidence, comfort, sense of fulfilment and pride in knowing that this is our own was very gratifying.
Come to think of it,without the
‘All in One initiative,’ I would have left for Lagos on Wednesday, and return on Friday morning. Additional costs for two nights accommodation and meal tickets for three days would have been incurred, thereby tripling my expenses. Apart from the professional fee, all I spent on that trip was 23,000 for my ticket to Lagos, 15,000 back, 4,000 for domestic transportation within Lagos and 1,500 service charge at Victor Attah International Airport. Everything amounting to N43,500! What else would have been better than this?
The long and short of it was that by 8:05pm I was at the Hilltop Mansion, in time for the serious business of the evening. Earlier when I opened the door of my sitting room by 7.45pm before racing to the office, nothing in my children’s countenance suggested they realised their daddy just came back from a very long journey, I also didn’t want to take pains to explain to them that a lot had happened since I last saw them 12 hours before then.