The Imo state government has taken delivery of the first aircraft to kick start the first state-owned commercial airline named ‘Imo Air’.
Governor Rochas Okorocha, during the official launch of the new airline at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo airport in Owerri, said the investment by the state government is to boost its economic activities and increase the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, as well as generate employment opportunities for its teaming unemployed youths.
“This is a happy moment in the state. The aim of going into the air business is because I want to drive traffic to Imo state as Imo is genuinely becoming the fastest developing City outside Abuja and Lagos.
“For this, there is need for more airlines to cushion the effects of high traffic coming to the state.”
The Governor noted that it has been his dream and sincere desire to position Imo state on the fast lane of development, prosperity and growth, adding that he won’t rest on his oars until that dream is realised.
He also said that Imo is not affected by the much-talked about recession in the country because according to him, some people might wonder why the state would dabble into airline business in a time of recession.
Furthermore, he stated that the “Imo government does not have an operating air license. So we needed to partner with a good and qualified airline operator, hence, the choice of DANA Air because of its proven track record and sincerity of purpose.
“The Imo Air will be operated by DANA and we have a contract of ten years with them. We have five of this aircrafts and the first one has just landed and four others will start operation in few weeks time.
“The International Cargo Airport will soon kick-start to supplement the efforts of Imo Air.
“Work is going on smoothly and by April, the fastest International Cargo Plane will arrive Imo State. This, we believe will help drive up commercial activities in the state.
“Imo is a hub for business and there is no better place to invest now in Nigeria than Imo state. Inspite of the recession, the state is still flourishing and progressing because of its visionary leadership.”
He also hinted that ‘Imo Air will offer a 10% discount to all indigenes of the state flying the Plane and the operation will equally employ over 30% of Imo sons and daughters to help in the management of the Imo Air’.
Some dignitaries present at the event, lauded the initiative of the state government, stating that it would go a long way in addressing the shortfalls in air transport in the South-east and Nigeria as a whole.
The state’s Commissioner for Work and Transport, Josephine Udoji, who also spoke at the event noted that all the state’s projects are centered on human development. He said:
“When we launched our Imo Mass Transit buses, we engaged not less than 300 unemployed youths. Today they are earning not less than 30,000 Naira and some are earning 50,000 Naira from that project.
“We also came and saw the need to launch the Cabs which we did at a subsidized price so our people can now be owners of cars.
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“People are also employed in that sector. Today I have on my desk not less than 473 applications from unemployed youths and they are the people we are going to engage the services of this Imo Air.
“By all these policies, I think we’ve been alleviating the sufferings of the poor unemployed youths in Imo state. All our projects are centred on human development.”