Air Sinai’s Airbus A220s Set To Fly For Nigeria’s Ibom Air

With Egyptair set to take over covert subsidiary Air Sinai’s Tel Aviv routes, its two Airbus A220-300s were looking for a new home. Now, it seems they will be heading to the west coast of Africa to join the fleet of fast-growing Ibom Air. These will be the largest aircraft Ibom has operated since its launch in 2019.

Air Sinai
Air Sinai’s two A220s are heading to Ibom Air in Nigeria. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia

Air Sinai’s A220s find a new home

Egyptair’s purpose-built subsidiary Air Sinai has been an interesting airline to track. Operating two unmarked Airbus A220s, it was set up to provide connectivity between Cairo and Tel Aviv, and has been flying the route since 1982.

Given the tensions between Israel and Egypt, it was not permitted to fly the repute with an Egyptian flag. As such, it operated a very covert service, flying all-white A220-300s SU-GFA and SU-GFD. However, as relations with Israel begin to normalize, the airline has somewhat lost its purpose.

In March this year, Egyptair noted its intention to replace Air Sinai on the Tel Aviv route with its own in-house services. This left the two A220s looking for a home. While Egyptair could have absorbed them into the mainline fleet, it appears that, given the current situation, it doesn’t feel it needs the extra capacity.

Now, according to ch-aviation, the pair of white A220s are set to start operations in another part of Africa – Nigeria.

Ibom Air CRJ900LR
The A220s will be a significant upsize from the CRJ900LRs currently flown by Ibom. Photo: Ibom Air

Ibom Air goes larger

Ibom Air, based out of Victor Attah International Airport in Akwa Ibom State, is a relatively new airline in the Nigerian domestic market. Launching services in June 2019, the airline began service with three CRJ900LR aircraft. In 2020, it added two more, currently flying a fleet of five of the regional jets.

Now, it seems it is ready to grow its capacity as it is slated to receive the two A220-300s from Air Sinai. ch-aviation reports that both aircraft will be delivered to the airline in the coming days. Images shared online show at least one, SU-GFA, has been repainted in Ibom’s livery.

It’s not known if the A220s will be operated under a dry or wet lease agreement from Egyptair. At present, GFA is showing on flight trackers as still parked in Cairo. However, it’s likely we could see it making the short hop across the continent to join the Nigerian fleet soon.

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Expanding Ibom

Being an all-domestic airline has meant Ibom Air has not been subjected to the same restrictions and issues that have plagued many international carriers over the past year. Operating a number of triangle routes connecting Abuja, Calabar, Engu, Uyo and Lagos, it is the most prolific airlines on the Nigerian domestic circuit.

Air Sinai’s Airbus A220s Set To Fly For Nigeria’s Ibom Air
Ibom Air’s routes. Data:

Last week, the airline signed a historic codeshare agreement with fellow Nigerian carrier Dana Air, the first major partnership to take place in Nigeria in over a decade. Speaking at the unveiling of the partnership, Ibom Air CCO George Uriesi said,

“The alliance will offer increased frequencies into common destinations as well as codeshare flights into destinations each airline does not operate into, providing more options for passengers and business retention for both airlines.”

The uptake of the A220 is a further step into building the airline. Its five CRJ900LRs offer 86 or 90 seats per departure, in contrast to the 140 available on the A220-300. The airline plans to launch Port Harcourt services later this year, and will likely deploy the A220s on the most high-demand routes.