Zenith Bank has closed on a commercial financing deal for Ibom Air’s first A220 delivered in November 2023. This historic collaboration also represents the bank’s commitment for aircraft financing.

The agreement between Ibom Air and Zenith Bank, which was initiated by Airbus, is part of a broader shift which could provide much-needed financial momentum and signal a new era of financial support for the continent’s promising aviation sector.

Securing adequate funding poses a significant hurdle for African carriers. Financing conditions for African Airlines are generally less favorable compared to other regions. Consequently, African airlines encounter challenges in acquiring and executing renewal and expansion initiatives.

“At Zenith Bank, we know how important the role financial institutions play in acting as economic enablers” said Dr 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.

Ibom Air Chief Operating Officer, George Uriesi commented “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, 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 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.”