Archive | February 2010

New International Flights To Nigeria

Delta Air Lines

A three weekly service from New York JFK to Abuja will substitute the current B757 service via Dakar this summer (31 June 2010 – 31 August 2010). Flight will be operated with a B767.

  • DL036 JFK1605 – ABV 767 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
  • DL037 ABV1055 – JFK (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)

The Atlanta-Lagos service will be reduced from the earlier announced seven to six weekly flights with a B777.

EgyptAir

EgyptAir will increase its flights from Cairo to Abuja from two to four weekly according to its summer schedule. New flights on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

MEA – Middle East Airlines – Air Liban

MEA will operate the following routes this summer:

  • Mondays: Beirut — Lagos — Abidjan v.v.
  • Tuesdays: Beirut — Kano — Abidjan v.v.
  • Wednesdays: Beirut — Lagos — Accra v.v.
  • Fridays: Beirut — Lagos — Abidjan v.v.
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This Week’s Update

Some bits of news:

Jimoh Ibrahim confirmed in an interview that he acquired Nigerian Eagle Airlines (formerly Virgin Nigeria Airways). Still, no formal comments have been made by the airline’s management.

Bellview Airlines set a new date for the re-start of its operations. Regional and domestic flights will start again on the 2nd of April, while the airline will commence a daily service to London Heathrow on April 24, 2010. Seeing is believing.

Arik Air’s fleet is down to 25 aircraft after the wet-leased aircraft from bankrupt Denim Air were withdrawn. Asky Airlines will fill the gap that Arik Air left in Niger by closing down Arik Niger. The Togo-based airline will start a three weekly Lomé-Niamey-Bamako service.

Ailing president Umaru Yar’Adua was flown into Abuja airport onboard a Saudi Medevac GV (HZ-MS5A) on Tuesday night.

The Nigerian Aviation Fire and Safety Association (NAFSA) condemns the “poor state” of fire cover across airports in Nigeria.

Plans by the Federal Government to bail out the aviation industry may fail, because the airline operators could not reach an agreement about the allocation of the funds.

Yemenia announced it will commence flights to Nigeria soon. Possibly to Kano?

Update of the update: the sale of Nigerian Eagle Airlines to the Nigerian businessman seems to be off and here is another picture of Arik Air’s A330. The aircraft is named ‘Sultan of Sokoto’, surprisingly. An Arik B738 (5N-MJP) is also baptised with this name.

Fourth B737-800 For Arik Air

A B737-8JE (5N-MJQ; named ‘City of Calabar’) was delivered to Arik Air today. The aircraft made its first flight on 12 October 2009 and was since stored at the Boeing plant in Seattle. It is the fourth B738 for the airline and the second from their order of fourteen aircraft of this type. For the time being, there are no more Boeing aircraft on the line for Arik Air.

Meanwhile, a Arik Air B737-700 (5N-MJC) was ferried to Southend.

Rumour Mill: Nigerian Eagle Airlines Sold And Arik Air To Lose Aircraft

A reliable source reports that cash-strapped carrier Nigerian Eagle Airlines (formerly Virgin Nigeria Airways) has been acquired by Nigerian businessman Jimoh Ibrahim for $5 million in cash plus the assumption of $250 million in debt. Mr. Ibrahim acquired EAS Airlines in 2006 and re-branded the airline NICON Airways – an unsuccessful venture as the airline was grounded the same year.

More unconfirmed reports: Arik Air may lose three wet-leased Dash 8-Q300s, as the Dutch lessor Denim Air is on the brink of bankruptcy. Earlier this month, Arik already returned four F50s to Denim, after contract renewal negotiations broke down and non-payment by Arik Air. Arik Air employs the Bombardier turboprops on thinner routes to Akure, Ilorin, Katsina, Kano, and Warri. Arik Air owns two Q400s but has not enough capacity to operate all these flights, let alone relaunch flights to Port Harcourt NAF Base and the Arik Niger operations.

Update: Denim Air filed for bankruptcy. One of the reasons given is non-payment by Arik Air. Allegedly, the airline owes Denim Air a few million Euros. It is unclear whether Denim’s Dash 8-Q300s are still operating for Arik Air at the moment, but the cancellation of several routes may be related to the return of the wet-leased aircraft.

Air Midwest To Commence Commercial Operations

The NCAA granted Air Midwest a Certificate of Airworthiness for its single B737-500. The airline aims at starting commercial flights on 21 February 2010. The initial network of the new airline will cover Lagos, Benin, Owerri, Abuja and Port Harcourt. Two more B735s are on their way to Nigeria according to the airline.

Air Midwest - 5N-PVA - B737-500 (Copyright Pro4 Aviation)

First Picture Of Arik Air’s A332

Here is a first picture of Arik Air’s new A330-200 at Châteauroux. Unfortunately, the photo is not very sharp. The temporary registration of the aircraft is F-WJKL (C/N 1002). The Nigerian registration and the aircraft’s name are yet to be determined.

Arik Air - A330-200 (Copyright Laurent Errera)

Nigerian Eagle’s B733s – Stored?

Two of Nigerian Eagle Airlines’ (formerly Virgin Nigeria) B737-300s were sighted at Le Bourget (France) last month. Both 5N-VNG and 5N-VNF were without engines. Are the aircraft under maintenance or stored? Any information is appreciated.

The fourth B737 (5N-VND) appears to be stored at Perpignan. If two more aircraft are grounded, Nigerian Eagle would only have two B737s and two EMB-190s left in their fleet. In that case the airline would not be able to carry out all its scheduled flights.

Arik And Aero Increase Frequencies To Owerri

Due to the closure of Enugu Airport, as of tomorrow, 10 February 2010, Arik Air and Aero Contractors will increase the number of flights from Lagos and Abuja to Owerri, Imo Airport.

Arik Air will serve Owerri thrice daily from Lagos and twice daily from Abuja.

Aero will serve Owerri twice daily from Lagos and daily from Abuja. The airline also added flights between Port Harcourt International and Lagos, now operating this route four times a day.

Arik Air Takes Delivery Of First A330-200

Arik Air will take delivery of an Airbus A330-200 (c/n 1002), powered by PW 4168A engines, from Amentum Capital, an Irish lessor. The aircraft is owned by HSH Nordbank and was destined for Air Comet (F-WJKL).

The A332 is already painted in full Arik Air colours at Châteauroux Airport. The airline will deploy the aircraft on the Lagos-Johannesburg route, currently served with a B737-800. The A332 is also better suited for this route than the A345. Operating the aircraft itself may also be cheaper for Arik Air than the current complex dry-lease and wet-lease back construction with HiFly for the A345s. Therefore, it is unlikely that Arik Air will still acquire a third A345. The earlier announced deal with Kingfisher for the wet-lease of two A332s seems to be off too. A disadvantage for Arik is that its long-haul fleet no longer has the same onboard product.

Arik Air Cuts Two More Routes: Accra-Dakar and Accra-Banjul

Arik Air only announced on February 2, 2010, that it had expanded its regional services with the launch of flights between Abuja and Accra, Banjul and Dakar. Only one week later the flights to Banjul and Dakar are cancelled. The four weekly Abuja-Accra service is still in place though, as well as the flights from Lagos to Banjul and Dakar.

Earlier this month Arik Air suspended its flights to and in Niger (Niamey).

Arik Air Drops Port Harcourt NAF Base

Arik Air no longer flies to Port Harcourt NAF Base (or the Garden City Terminal als they call it). All Arik’s flights to Lagos and Abuja are now operated from Port Harcourt International Airport. Arik Air dropped eight destinations in less than a month time, although the routes are only on ‘temporary suspension’ according to the airline.

Aero still operates flights from Port Harcourt NAF Base to Lagos and Warri.

NCAA Revokes AOC of Afrijet, Bellview, And Capital

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority yesterday revoked the Air Operator Certificates (AOC) of Afrijet Airlines, Bellview Airlines, and Capital Airlines. All airlines suspended their operations last year due to financial problems. Since Bellview acquired a B767-300ER (5N-BVA), but failed to recommence flights as the aircraft is still stored at Shannon. Afrijet returned their two MD-80s (5N-BKO and 5N-BKI) to the lessors, but has four ATR 72-500s on order; it’s unlikely that they will actually get these props. Finally, Capital was operating a single EMB120 (5N-BLN). At one point, there were reports that start-up Red 1 Xpress would acquire Capital as well as their AOC.

Update: The director of the NCAA stated that Bellview and Afrijet haven’t lost their AOC, but merely have to meet some criteria again before being allowed to operated commercial operations.

It will take a long time before two Nigerian operators will fly intercontinental routes again. This is a unique picture, showing an Arik Air A345 and Bellview Airlines B762 side by side at London Heathrow (Terminal 2) last summer.

Arik Air and Bellview at London Heathrow (2009) - (Copyright Aero Icarus)

Tradecraft Air – New Charter Airline?

Last year an airline called Tradecraft Air (sometimes referred to as Trade Craft Air) was designated to carry pilgrims from Ilorin and Lagos to Jeddah. Reportedly, the company used two leased B767s. Tradecraft Air now appears to have acquired a B767-300 of its own. This means that the airline joins Kabo Air and MaxAir as pilgrims charter carrier in Nigeria.

Update: it’s an ex-Delta B767-300 (serial 23436).

NCAA To Bail Out Airlines

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) may bail out airlines that got into financial difficulties, on the advice of a presidential committee that examined the Nigerian aviation sector. The NCAA has audited five banks to manage a N200 billion fund. The so-called National Airline Financing Fund (NAFF) has to prevent airlines going bankrupt.

Arik Air Returns Last Leased F50

Arik Air returned the fourth and last wet-leased Fokker 50 to Denim Air. The Dutch airline is still operating three Dash 8-Q300s for Arik Air. It seems that the F50s are substituted by Arik’s own Dash 8-Q400s on the domestic routes, while it appears that Arik Niger ceased operations altogether. At least, no Arik Niger flights are bookable anymore on the website.

Update: According to Arik Air’s spokesman Ola Adebanji “Arik Niger has only suspended operations and will resume shortly”.

New Charter Airline: TopBrass Aviation

While many airlines in Nigeria are suffering financial hardship, a new charter company commenced services: TopBrass Aviation. The Lagos-based airline operates a fleet of four Hawker HS-125s (a Hawker 850XP, 900XP, 1000, and 4000, all leased from the South African National Airways Corporation).

TopBrass Aviation