It was a beehive of activities at Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport as top Imo state government functionaries as well as Imo indigenes gathered to witness the arrival and official launch of the first aircraft in the fleet of the new state government flight operator Imo Air.
At about 11:45AM the aircraft landed from Lagos as people waited anxiously at the tarmac – the first of the five aircraft expected to run the air business for the state government.
While addressing the anxious crowd, the Imo state Governor, Mr Rochas Okorocha, said the new Imo Air is part of the plans and programmes of the his administration to boost the economy of the state and also generate employment opportunity for unemployed youths in the state.
The Governor said Owerri, Imo state capital, being one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and now with a new airline, will become visible on world map, hereby boosting the investment and tourism potential of the state.
The Governor, while fielding questions from journalists after the official launch, said Imo Air is in partnership with a Nigerian local flight operator which will manage and operate the flight for Imo state government.
He said that this is because most times governments do not do well in business and particularly maintaining an airline business.
Some dignitaries present at the event lauded the initiative of the Imo state government acknowledging its potential to address the shortfalls in air transport in the south-east region and Nigeria as a whole.
The government has promised that by April 2017, the remaining four aircraft will arrive the state.
The new airline is expected to ply Lagos, Abuja, Benin, Sokoto, and other major states in the federation.