From The Olden Days: Zenith Air, Triax Airlines and Sosoliso Airlines

Nigerian airlines mostly have their maintenance base in Abuja, Kano or Lagos, the major airports in the country. Exceptions in the past were Okada Air that was based in Benin City and Oriental Airlines in Owerri. City Link Airlines (1993-1996) was the only airline to operate from Port Harcourt with an EMB-110 Bandeirante. Kaduna is still the home base of Chanchangi Airlines, although the airline plans to build a new hangar at Abuja.

Some of the airlines that were established in the early nineties, after the airline deregulation in Nigeria, Zenith Air (1992), Triax Airlines (1992), and Sosoliso Airlines (1994) had Enugu Airport as home base. Zenith Air was a short-lived carrier and operated two DC-9s. The former director of Zenith Air is now the CEO of the announced low-cost carrier Red 1 Xpress. Triax Airlines operated three B727s until the late nineties, while Sosoliso Airlines commenced scheduled operations in 2000 with a B727 wet-leased from JAT Airways. The airline subsequently flew with two DC-9s and two MD-80s. The last airline was grounded in December 2005, after a crash landing at Port Harcourt in which 110 passengers and crew were killed.

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9 responses to “From The Olden Days: Zenith Air, Triax Airlines and Sosoliso Airlines”

  1. Ezeukpo says :

    Thanks for the recap. You forgot Barnax Airlines, which also leased a couple of 737-200 but never flew them. Eventually they were stored in Port Hourcourt (around ’94-95) and the US lessor had to sue the company and the govt. to get its planes back to the US.
    I don’t recall Zenith Air ever flying, besides having 2 DC-9-30s on the ground once…
    Nigeria has surely come a long way in terms of stringent capitalization and technical requirements for airline start ups.

    • nigerianaviation says :

      Thank you for the additional information. Zenith Air had scheduled flights to Abuja, Enugu, Lagos, and Port Harcourt for less than a year (1992-1993). The DC-9s (5N-GIN and 5N-ZNI) were back in the US in 1993.
      I believe Barnax Airlines was a charter airline only. One B732 (5N-MCI) was returned to the lessor in 1993 already, but I am not sure about the fate of the other (5N-DIO).
      Any chief could have an airline at the time, but the big players were Kabo Air and Okada Air.
      Another airline I heard of is Yvic Airlines, but I am uninformed about its origins, fleet and services.

  2. Ezeukpo says :

    YVIC along with PANAF Executive (I think) were significant operators of YAK-40s. I believe Yvic at one point operated YAK-42 as well. Of course this opens a whole new discussion about Russian aircraft operators in Nigeria 1995-2002. They include Harka (Tu-134), Harco (Tu-134), Kolkol Airlines (Tu-134) I’m still laughing about that name.
    Harka at the time managed by an Alhaji Rabiu, crashed a Tu-134 in LOS with major fatalities.
    Another DC-9-30 was Interstate Airlines but not sure if they actually flew. At some point in the late 90s there was something like 200 AOC’s on register by far less flying (around 30-40 which is still huge considering the size of the country and its economy). I think that situation arised post deregulation and especially in light of a brutal military dictatorship which gave favors to any chief Tokunbo. The result was an array of “brief case” airlines.
    That era is certainly behind us thanks Almighty.

  3. ezeukpo says :

    Your welcome, looking forward! Yet another correction: PAS = Premium Air Shuttle, not Premium Air Services.

  4. ezeukpo says :

    http://www.airlinehistory.co.uk/Africa/Nigeria/Airlines.asp

    the above list is helpful. Transahel Airlines also operated YAK-40.

  5. Alaba Bham says :

    Great thread building on here. Were there Nigerian crews flying these Russian or Eastern Bloc aircraft? Wonder what it must have been like to convert onto a Tu-134 from say a Bac 111 or 737 with the lime green instrument panels and ADI where the actual aeroplane symbol moves as opposed to the gyro itself on Russian aircraft.

    The economics were quite frightful as well.

  6. nigerianaviation says :

    I’m not sure about the Russian aircraft (most of the airlines operating them were short-lived), but a lot of the BAC’s were also crewed by East-Europeans/Russians as far as I know.

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