Archive | April 2010

Name Change For Nigerian Eagle

Jimoh Ibrahim, the new chairman and owner of Nigerian Eagle Airlines, announced he will give the airline a new name. He will unveil the new corporate identity of the airline next week Wednesday. He will also unfold his plans as how to consolidate the position of the airline. Its the second name change of the airline within a year, as it was still in the process of rebranding from Virgin Nigeria Airlines to Nigerian Eagle Airlines. Hopefully, it will turn out the right decision.

This Week’s Update

Some bits of news over the past week:

  • United Airlines delayed the start of planned flights to Lagos, Nigeria, because of regulatory issues.
  • The FAAN has completed the installation of the airfield lighting system at Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri.
  • Bristow has signed a $1.5m agreement with the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, for the provision of technical support.
  • An Arik Air B737-700 (5N-MJE) was hit by a bird at Calabar Airport on 26 April 2010.
  • Although Arik Air withdrew the A330-200 from its schedule, a spokesman of the airline assured that the aircraft will be deployed on the Lagos-Johannesburg route before the start of the World Cup.
  • Aero had to ground the aircraft it leases from CHC, mainly the helicopters and Dash 8s used for the oil and gas industry, as the airline could no longer pay the bills.
  • Dapo Olumide tendered his resignation as CEO of Nigerian Eagle. The COO of the airline, Kinfe Kahssaye, is appointed as his successor.
  • Does anyone know which individuals or institutions are behind the new charter airline TopBrass Aviation? Its CEO, Roland Iyayi, was Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA). He was arrested by the EFCC in 2008 for misuse of the N19.5 billion Aviation Intervention Fund.

Aero In Financial Trouble

Aero is experiencing financial difficulties regarding the financing of its fleet of B737-500s. The aircraft were initially leased from Oceanic Bank (both the airline and the bank were owned by the Ibru family at the time and no formal contract was put on paper), but since the Central Bank of Nigeria took over the bank last year, it tries to change the conditions of the lease. The bank wants to transfer the aircraft to the airline against loans under unfavourable conditions. The stance of the new management of Oceanic Bank has precipitated fears that Aero may have to cancel services because of the lack of working capital and payments not being made to creditors.

In the past year AeroContractors Company of Nigeria Ltd has been split into two divisions: Aero (the passenger airline) and Rotary Wing (helicopters servicing the oil industry in partnership of CHC). Aero Contractors of Nigeria was formed in 1959 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Schreiner Airways B.V. of the Netherlands. The fixed wing division currently operates four Dash 8-Q300s, two B737-400s and five B737-500s. Two more B735s are awaiting delivery at Lasham.

Update: here is the reaction of Oceanic Bank.

Aero - B737-500 - 5N-BLD (Copyright KCI - Global Aviation Images)

Jimoh Ibrahim Acquires Nigerian Eagle Airlines

The deal has been concluded, Nigerian Eagle Airlines (formerly Virgin Nigeria Airways) has a new owner. A Nigerian businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim, acquired a majority stake in the ailing airline. Reportedly, he bought the 49% share of Virgin Atlantic in the airline as well as the 51% share held by Nigerian institutional investors. All the shareholders will be bought out for a sum of $5 million – taking a loss of $20 million, and the new owners will also take over the liabilities of the airline which is in excess of $100 million. The most important creditor of the airline, UBA bank, gave its approval to the deal last week.

According to the new owner, Nigerian Eagle Airlines will acquire two more aircraft and Lufthansa Technik will become responsible for the maintenance of the fleet again, cancelling the technical agreement with Ethiopean Airlines. Nigerian Eagle currently operates a fleet of two EMB190s and three B737-300s.

Jimoh Ibrahim is the owner of Global Fleet Group. He acquired EAS Airlines in 2006 to form a new airline called Nicon Airways, but the airline was grounded the next year.

Update: there are contradicting reports about the sale of Virgin Atlantic’s share to Ibrahim. In another development, the CEO of Nigerian Eagle, Dapo Olumide, resigned his position. The Ethiopian COO of Nigerian Eagle, Kinfe Kahssaye, has been appointed new Chief Executive Officer of the airline.

Arik Air To Resume Flights To London

Arik Air will resume daily flights from Lagos to London and five weekly flights from Abuja to London tomorrow, 22 April 2010. Services were suspended for a week due to the closure of the European airspace as a result of the volcanic ash cloud. Good news for travellers and hopefully the airline will overcome the financial damage. Various European airlines resumed flights to and from Nigerian today.

Arik Air’s Shrinking Fleet

After Arik Air returned three Dash 8-Q300s and four Fokker 50s to bankrupt Denim Air, the airline has lost more aircraft. One of its two B737-300s is stored (5N-MJB at Southend) as well as two B737-700s (5N-MJC at Southend and 5N-MJJ is on repair at Southend too). Some of the stored aircraft may return into service. Still, Arik Air has only 20 aircraft available for scheduled services right now, against the 30 it operated at the beginning of the year. The airline has only two aircraft awaiting delivery at the moment: an A330 (F-WJKL) at Chateauroux and a Dash 8-Q400 (C-FXAW) at Toronto.

Arik Air has not opened any new route or destination since November 2009. It actually closed eight domestic and regional destinations and a few regional routes. It seems that Arik Air is beyond its first phase of expansion. Hopefully, the airline can consolidate its current position.

Arik Air still has the biggest aircraft fleet in Nigeria. Aero operates eleven aircraft, Nigerian Eagle Airlines five, Overland Airways five, Dana Air four, IRS Airlines three, and Chanchangi Airlines two aircraft.

Bird Strike For Dana Air MD83

A Dana Air MD-83 made an emergency landing today after a bird strike at Lagos Airport. The aircraft en route to Abuja lost one engine and returned to Lagos Airport, where it landed safely.

According to its schedules, Dana Air will reduce its daily frequencies on the Lagos-Abuja route from six to five and on the Lagos-Port Harcourt route from two to one from next month onwards.

On 17 April, 2010, a Challenger 600 coming from Makurdi Airport declared an emergency at Abuja Airport. The aircraft belonging to charter company called Prime Air experienced problems with its landing gear but landed safely after all.

The Bombardier Global Express XRS In Nigeria

Aliko Dangote took delivery of his new Global Express XRS last week. It is registered N104DA. The Nigerian businessman already owns a Bombardier Challenger 300 (3B-SSD) and a BAe-125 (5N-BEX).

Aliko Dangote – Bombardier Global Express XRS – N104DA (Copyright Alex N.)

The owner of Arik Air, Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, also acquired a Global Express XRS (VQ-BJA; ‘Gregory’) recently. Vistajet also had a Global Express XRS (OE-LXR) based in Nigeria sometime.

NAF Introduces The Chengdu F-7 Airguard

The Nigerian Air Force recently introduced the Chinese made Chengdu F-7 combat aircraft to its fleet. The NAF acquired twelve F-7NI fighters and three FT-7NI trainers. Click here for some pictures of the introduction ceremony at Makurdi earlier this month. The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Oluseyi Petinrin said that the NAF still needs more pilots to operate all the fighters.

The NAF also publishes a magazine called Air Trainer – the latest issue is available here.

Nigerian Eagle Airlines To Be Sold To Nigerian Investors

Nigerian Eagle Airlines (formerly Virgin Nigeria), which is 49 percent owned by Virgin Atlantic, plans to sell equity and reorganize its debt in a transaction worth about $450 million, said Ernst & Young, which is advising the company. The deal will be completed by the end of the summer. A number of investors and companies have shown interest in buying the stake, all of which are based in Nigeria. Jimoh Ibrahim is allegedly one of the interested investors. The airline is also trying to sell the seven EMB-190s it has on order.

NAF To Resurrect The Air Beetle

The Nigeria Air Force announced it will put its Air Beetle training aircraft into service again, which have been out of use for over a decade. The Air Beetle is a Van RV-6A; the only kit built aircraft that is used as a military training aircraft. Searching for a suitable trainer that could be assembled in Nigeria using local labour, the Federal Government settled on the RV-6A. Van’s produced 60 kits to fulfill the order and these were assembled in Nigeria, test flown and entered service with the Nigerian Air Force in 1989 as elementary training aircraft under the name Air Beetle. The air training school is based at Kaduna and the aircraft are assembled and maintained by Dornier Aviation Nigeria (DANA).

Nigerian Air Force – NAF 076 – Air Beetle (Copyright Aircraftslides.com)

Fidelia Njeze New Minister Of Aviation

Reportedly, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze from Enugu State will be the new Minister of Aviation under acting president Goodluck Jonathan. She was a member of the previous administration as Minister of State for Defence and as Minister of State for Agriculture and Water Resources. Hopefully she will settle quickly into her new job as there is a crisis looming between the domestic airlines and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency.

This Week’s Update

The Arik Air B737 (5N-MJJ) involved in the incident at Calabar was ferried to Lagos for inspection and repair. The damage turns out to be less worse than thought.

Chanchangi Airlines has only one operational aircraft at the moment. All other aircraft are grounded or abroad for maintenance checks. The airline has serious financial problems too.

Airlines in Nigeria threatened to stop operations on in the coming week. This decision was made after the NAMA management issued a ‘Pay before Departure’ memo to airlines in Nigeria mandating them to clear their navigational charges on ‘cash and carry’ basis effective from April 9, as most airlines have become ‘perpetual debtors’ to the agency. For instance, Arik Air allegedly is indebted to the NAMA to the tune of $1.5million.

The first two 3D body scanners are being installed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, by the Federal Government.

According to unconfirmed reports Kabo Air suspended its scheduled flights to Cairo, Dubai and Jeddah.

Sudan Airways has resumed operations to Kano Airport this week.