Archive | August 2012

TopBrass and Med-View to commence scheduled operations

Two charter airlines, Med-View Airline and TopBrass Aviation, are both planning to commence scheduled domestic flights. Med-View is a Haji carrier and normally wet-leases aircraft for their operations, while TopBrass serves the oil and gas industry with two Dash 8-Q300s.

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Who owns this Global Express?

This Bombardier Global Express (VP-CEO) is reportedly based at Lagos Airport since late last year, despite being registered on the Cayman Islands to a company called ‘Wings of Grace Ltd’. Does anyone know the real owner of the aircraft?

Update: the answer is Folorunso Alakija.

Bombardier Global Express – VP-CEO (copyright Mmaviation)

News from the Minister of Aviation

The Minister of Aviation made a couple of statements this week:

  • Emirates, Turkish Airlines and Etihad Airlines were denied landing rights at Abuja Airport and Kano Airport. Instead, the Minister requested these airlines to commence flights to Enugu Airport. This report was later denied by a spokesman of the Minister.
  • The Minister of Aviation warned airlines not to make any air returns because of bad weather conditions:

…there is absolutely no reason and justification for an aircraft to make an air return on the basis of poor weather condition since initial weather report from the AIS would have been adequate to indicate the futility of an initial take-off under such harsh weather conditions. This recklessness on the part of airline operators and pilots, the minister warned, will no longer be tolerated and infractions would be met with serious sanctions as she noted that this has the potential of compromising the safety of the nation’s airspace.

  • The Ministry of Aviation denies that it intends to privatise the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, rather it wants ‘to reposition’ the aviation college.
  • No money was withdrawn from the BASA fund to finance the airport remodelling excercise in Nigeria, according to the Minister of Aviation.

Arik Air announces three-weekly Douala service

Arik Air will commence scheduled commercial services between Lagos and Douala on Thursday, August 30. The route will be operated three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with a B737-700:

  • W3121 LOS-DLA 11:10-12:40
  • W3122 DLA-LOS 13:25-14:55

Arik Air partly fills the gap left behind by Air Nigeria, which flew between Lagos and Douala every day. Meanwhile, Camair-Co seems to have abandoned its plans to commence flights to Nigeria. The Cameroonian carrier should have started a three-weekly service per 25 July, but flights are not bookable on the airline’s website.

Ethiopian B787 lands at Lagos Airport

Ethiopian Airlines first B787-8 Dreamliner touched down at Lagos Airport yesterday as part of its African introduction tour. The aircraft will also operate today’s return flight between Addis Ababa and Lagos and tomorrow’s return flight between Addis Ababa and Abuja.

Ethiopian Airlines – B787-8 – ET-AOQ (copyright Ethiopian)

Earlier this week, United Airlines announced that it will operate its five-weekly Houston-Lagos service with a B787 per 7 January 2012.

Arik Air has seven B787-9s on order from Boeing, but it will take a couple of years before they will be built. Some months ago, Air Nigeria announced it would purchase four B787-8s, but it’s highly unlikely that the airline will realise this acquisition.

New helicopters for the Police and NCAT

Two Bell 412EP’s for the Air Wing of the Nigeria Police arrived at Lagos Airport this week. The helicopters will join the four other Bell 412s already in the fleet of the Police.

Two Bell 412s for the Nigeria Police (copyright Superspotter)

The first of two Bell 206 L4 helicopters for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology at Zaria was also spotted at Lagos. The College intends to set up a helicopter flying school.

A Bell 206 L4 (5N-BZB) for NCAT at Lagos Airport (copyright Superspotter)

Dana Air’s staff urge government to lift suspension

The staff members of Dana Air have appealed to the president to reinstate the Air Operating Certificate (AOC) of the airline, which was suspended by the Ministry of Aviation in June. Their letter reads:

In the history of the Nigerian aviation industry, no other airline that has suffered a similar accident has responded in the way the management of Dana did. Besides honouring its duty to the victims’ families, the airline has continued to pay  the salary of its staff, which amounts to about N110 million monthly. Dana Air is, perhaps, the only airline in Nigeria that pays salary as at when due. If the airline’s AOC is not restored immediately, the over 558 directly-employed Nigerian staff, plus countless others indirectly affected, including their families and dependants, risk losing their source of livelihood and being thrown into the cold aviation labour market.

In a response the Ministery of Aviation declared it will not yet lift the ban on Dana Air:

We want to make sure that every aircraft in their fleet is air worthy. The suspension will be lifted. But I recall that when the crash happened, everybody was shouting ban them; ban them. Now people are saying lift the suspension. We want to be sure that by the time they come back, they will operate safely.

And according to the NCAA the suspension is indeed a punitive political measure:

The operations of Dana Airlines were suspended by the Federal Government of Nigeria following the intense emotions and sentiments that greeted the plane crash. It was the Federal Government’s reaction to the anguish that pervaded the country in the aftermath of the crash. (…) However, Dana can continue to carry out maintenance of their aircraft while it is not out of place to operate outside the country until all issues surrounding the suspension of their AOL (Air Operator’s Licence) is resolved.

Dana Air’s MD83 fleet parked at Lagos Airport (copyright Davey0911)

Passenger numbers in Nigeria increased in 2010 and 2011

The FAAN has released the passenger numbers for 2010, 2011 and the first half of 2012 (XLSX-format). The total number of passengers rose in 2010 compared to 2009 with 10,5 per cent to  13.981.677, and in 2011 compared to 2010 with 5,5 per cent to  14.751.83. Lagos Airport was the busiest airport in 2011 with  4.127.100 domestic and 2.621.190 international air travellers, while Abuja follows with 3.624.862 domestic and 591.285 international passengers. Overall, most of the smaller domestic airports experienced a decline in traffic in 2011. Airports that are not managed by the FAAN – Asaba, Gombe and Uyo – are not included in the calculations.

Jet Taxi operates Phenom 100s in Nigeria

A charter company called Jet Taxi Transport Ltd operates an Embraer Phenom 100 and a Hawker 800XP from its bases at Abuja and Lagos. None of the aircraft have been identified yet, but two Phenom 100s (OE-FHT; ex-G-ROOB, and OE-FHO; ex-G-RUBO) have been spotted at Lagos and Kaduna. The airline is part of the G-Eurafric Group.

Dana Air ordered two Phenom 100s and one Phenom 300 in 2007 for its VIP division, but that order was never fulfilled.

This week’s update

A couple of short updates:

  • Nigeria and India are planning to renegotiate their bilateral air service agreement, while Nigeria and Trinidad and Tobago may also enter into a BASA.
  • Air Algerie wants to start flights from Algiers to Lagos.
  • Bombardier as well as Boeing are considering to help Nigeria develop a MRO facility.
  • Air Nigeria’s repossessed B737s have been flown out of Lagos.
  • The Imo State Government intends to build a new airport terminal at Owerri Airport through a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) agreement.
  • Taraba State is planning to build an airstrip on the Mambilla plateau. It would be the second airstrip to be constructed by the State Governor, who also has an airstrip in his home village of Suntai. The state capital’s Jalingo Airport, however, is not yet operational for commercial flights nor has Air Taraba taken of yet.
  • The presentation given by the SG of the NCAA at the International Helicopter Safety Symposium 2011.
  • Does anyone know more about Private Flyers International? It’s a private flying club, based at Kaduna, operating a fleet consisting of a Cessna 172, a Cessna 206, a Piper PA-23 Aztec (5N-BKE), a Jabiru 430, and a Cessna Caravan.
  • The airlines are expected to raise their domestic air fares.
  • The Minister of Aviation wants to invite foreign companies to audit the domestic airlines. Experts complain that the Ministry is neglecting the air safety projects.
  • FAAN has announced that it will remove 65 unserviceable aircraft from various airports in the country.

Chanchangi Airlines B737-200s parked at Kaduna Airport (copyright Klearpics)

Picture of Arik Air’s new A330-200

Here is a picture of Arik Air’s new A330-200 (5N-JIC; ex-EI-EWH; ex-VT-VJL). The aircraft – named ‘Joseph of the Holy Family’ – was rolled out in Arik Air’s colours at Dublin Airport today. It’s an former Kingfisher Airlines aircraft – meaning that Arik maintains a common onboard product on its long-haul fleet – and the second A332 to be operated by the airline. Arik Air briefly operated 5N-EIA in 2010-2011.

Arik Air – A330-200 – 5N-JIC (copyright Shanairpic)

And a video of the aircraft departing from Dublin to Bordeaux (copyright ShamrockGoldCircle):

Airport renovation pictures

Some pictures of the ongoing airport renovation programme can be found on the website of the FAAN: CalabarKaduna, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt. They give a bit of an idea of what can be expected from the remodelling exercise. In the cases of smaller airports, it would have been a better and perhaps cheaper option to build complete new terminals and knock down the old ones altogether. All domestic operations at Lagos airport should have been moved to MMA2 until the completion of the new GA terminal, rather than continuing operations from this temporal terminal. Hopefully, the contractors will deliver a proper job, as they are being pressured to finish the work quickly.

Enugu Airport renovation work in progress – August 2012 (copyright luckieeleven)

OAS Helicopters acquire a new AS355N Ecureuil 2

OAS Helicopters have acquired a new Eurocopter Eurocopter AS355N Ecureuil 2 (Twin Squirrel) (5N-BPD) helicopter. It’s the second helicopter in the fleet, next to sister ship 5N-BLI, an AS350 B2.

OAS Helicopters – AS355N Twin Squirrel – 5N-BPD

The company lost two helicopters in fatal accidents in 2006 (5N-BHU) and 2011 (5N-BKA).

OAS Helicopter launched a new website too, and mother company Odengene Air Shuttle aims to serve as a middle ground between commercial airplane lessor (in Europe and United States) and lessee in West Africa.

FAAN and Minister of Aviation accused of embezzlement once more

Civil society organisations have petitioned EFCC and the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of  the Nigerian Police to investigate the alleged financial mismanagement by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and the Minister of Aviation. The petition states:

[An] amount which is in excess of N11 billion has been spent over different contracts awarded by the Minister of Aviation Mrs. Stella Oduah and the Managing Director of FAAN Mr. George Uriesi without following due process, no approval of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), no due process certificate issued, and no federal Executive Council approval. These spending were neither budgeted nor appropriated in the 2012 Budget passed by the National Assembly, had no Federal Executive Council Approval and did not comply with the spending limits allowed by the delegated financial authority of the Government.

In particular, the MDs of FAAN, George Uriesi and Hajia Nana Aliyu, and the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, have profited from the suspected large-scale embezzlement of the $76 million BASA fund.

A check confirmed that N3 Billion was used by the Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, to secure a loan from Zenith Bank to buy a ship for the operations of Sea Petroleum & Gas, her company.

Read the full article here. Whatever the truth is, it’s time for the Minister of Aviation and the FAAN to account for their income and expenses.

SkyBird Air to accept three Do328Jets

After years of refurbishment, SkyBird Air finally accepted its first aircraft last week. One Do 328Jet was ferried from Germany to Lagos last week, a second will follow this week (5N-BMH), and a third later this month. One aircraft is configured in a twelve passenger VIP-layout, while the other two are passenger airlines with 32 seats. The three Dorniers were in the past operated by Shell in Nigeria (as 5N-SPE, -SPM and -SPN). SkyBird Air is a new charter operator based at Lagos Airport, and allegedly owned by a former Borno State governor, Ali Modu Sheriff.

SkyBird Air – Do328Jet – 5N-SPE

This week’s update

Updates:

  • Aero finally took delivery of its fourth B737-400 (5N-BOB).
  • Earlier, it was reported that Aero acquired four B737-400s from Garuda, but these aircraft now seem to be destined for a company called Hak Air. Is Capt. Adekunle Kuti reviving his old charter airline Hak Air? Or is he setting up a national carrier for Niger Republic?
  • Arik Air will soon receive an ex-Kingfisher Airlines A330-200 (EI-EWH; 5N-)
  • One of DANA’s Dornier 328s (5N-DOW) was flown to Bournemouth, likely for maintenance or sale.
  • It seems that SkyBird Air will finally accept its first Do 328Jet on 14 August 2012.
  • An interesting interview with Akin Oni, Managing Director at Bristow Helicopters, about the Nigerian Content Act, training of aviation personnel, import duties on aircraft, and other challenges in the aviation industry.

We are talking about a maintenance hangar for Nigeria, has anyone asked where we would get the engineers from? We are struggling today looking for Nigerian engineers. We don’t have engineers.

  • The Minister of Aviation launched her Nigeria Aerotropolis-programme aiming at a transformation of the Nigerian aviation industry. See for more information: www.nigeriaaerotropolis.com.
  • How far is the FG’s plan for a new national carrier – Nigeria Airlines – developed?
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, Air Nigeria hopes to restart its operations by obtaining loans to finance the eight Embraer jets the airline still has on order. The Federal Government might be willing to help the airline, but wants a merger between Arik Air and Air Nigeria.

Nigeria’s government may offer the company another “substantial” low-interest rate loan, said aviation ministry spokesman Joe Obi. But it is also pushing Air Nigeria and Arik Air to merge — a prospect neither airline has embraced. “We are talking to them, but you know it’s like a marriage, and you cannot force a marriage,” said Mr. Obi. “It’s an ego thing. Somebody wants to say, I own this airline… That is the major problem.”

  • China eyes the Nigerian aviation sector.
  • Ethiopian Airlines plans to operate its new B787-8 Dreamliner once-only to Lagos on 25 August and to Abuja on 27 August 2012.
  • RwandAir inaugurated the Lagos-Johannesburg route via Kigali.