Archive | January 2013

FAAN: ‘Local airlines will merge to form a national carrier’

The Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr George Uriesi, shed some light on the plans of the Federal Government to assist local airlines. First of all, he explained that the national airline being set up by the Ministry of Aviation will emerge from a merger of domestic airlines in March 2013:

The Federal Government will not launch a new national carrier but it will help some new companies’ access funding to build a new national carrier. A couple of airlines will merge by March 2013 to emerge as the national carrier. [The] conditions that will enhance these developments are currently being put together.

Secondly, he denied that the Federal Government will set up an aircraft leasing company or distribute aircraft among the local airlines. Rather, the Federal Government will assist airlines in negotiating and funding the acquisition of new aeroplanes:

The Federal Government of Nigeria is not buying any number of aircraft that as being rumoured about. The government is just negotiating with aircraft manufacturers to supply brand new aircraft at globally competitive price to Nigerian airlines and funds to make the purchase will be provided by the government.

Watch the full interview here.

This week’s update

Updates:

  • Chanchangi’s second B737-300 (5N-BMC) will re-join the airline’s fleet shortly. The airlines also hopes to add two more B737 Classics before the summer.
  • The Minister of Aviation disclosed that the launch of a new national carrier is in its final stage of approval.
  • FAAN has begun to dismantle derelict aircraft at Lagos Airport, meanwhile an entrepreneur wants to collect abandoned aircraft to set up an Aviation Museum in Nigeria.
  • The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has announced it will enforce the new Passenger Bill of Rights to make sure that all airlines comply to the new rules protecting air travellers.
  • Gombe State Government has struck a new deal with Arik Air to increase the current five-weekly service between Gombe and Abuja to a daily service.
  • Med-View Airline has suspended its Lagos-Owerri service after just one month.
  • AirFrance will offer more seats on its daily flights from Paris to Abuja and Port Harcourt per 31 March 2013, changing from A332 to B772 equipment. The airline also serves Lagos daily from Paris with an A332.
  • The Nigerian Air Force has acquired a former SAS B737-505 (to be registered NAF 916; ex-LN-BRV). The aircraft is currently at Istanbul for maintenance.
  • PICOMMS lost the feud with NIMASA and will be disolved by the Federal Government. The Nigerian Navy will take over the assets of PICOMMS, including a B350, DA42 and Cessna 206.
  • An article on the Biafran Air Force (shared by Alaba).
  • Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers in the US for further training.
  • The foundation of the new airport in Bauchi State was laid by the State Governor on 25 January 2013. The second airport in the state should be ready before the end of the year.
  • A couple of pictures showing the ongoing renovation work on the Owerri Airport terminal emerged on the net. Apparently all the domestic airports – Benin, Port Harcourt and Enugu – are getting a very similar look.
Owerri Airport

Owerri Airport

Renovated GA Terminal at Abuja opened

On Monday, 21 January 2012, the renovated General Aviation Terminal at Abuja Airport was inaugurated by the Deputy Speaker of the Senate. The old domestic terminal will now be used for unscheduled flights, as well as the annual Hajj flights. According to the Minister of Aviation:

It was not only that the old domestic terminal at this airport did not meet acceptable international standard, it was also not befitting of an airport in the country’s capital city, which has been described as the fastest growing capital city in the world. The airport also did not have general aviation and cargo terminals irrespective of the fact that it had long become the second busiest airport in the country, after the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja. All these inadequacies have now been addressed, under the airport remodeling project. Work on the remodeling of this terminal, which started in October 2010, entailed the expansion and modernization of the old domestic terminal. This GAT, which will handle all non-scheduled flights at this airport, has a full complement of such modern facilities as lounges, including one for pilots, offices, duty rooms, private airline offices, a conference room, dining hall, shops and a game room, for recreation.

The Minister of Aviation also disclosed that work will soon commence on a new international terminal at Abuja, until its completion the current international terminal will be used for both domestic and international flights. Overall, the first phase of airport re-modelling is nearing its completion, and eleven more airport terminals will be renovated during the second phase that will start later this year. Furthermore, the FAAN intends to build General Aviation Terminals for private and corporate jet owners at Enugu, Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Yola.

Opening of the General Aviation Terminal at Abuja Airport (copyright NAN)

Opening of the General Aviation Terminal at Abuja Airport (copyright NAN)

Nigeria suspends the import of private aircraft

The Federal Government has suspended the import of private airplanes and helicopters into the country. The measure was taken by the Ministry of Aviation a couple of months ago, in order to develop a new policy regarding the import and operation of private aircraft. No deadline has been set for the completion of the new regulations. A spokesman of the Minister confirmed the development, but stressed that the suspension did not affect the import of passenger aircraft being used by domestic airlines. The number of private aircraft in Nigeria has increased significantly over the past years.

Allied Air’s new B737-400F

Allied Air Cargo took delivery of a B737-400 freighter (5N-OTT; ex-N737WF) on 22 January 2013. It’s the first aircraft of this type to join Allied Air’s fleet. The cargo aircraft is painted in DHL/Allied Air Cargo colours. DHL announced in November 2012 that it would base a B734F at Lagos Airport, after obtaining approval from the NCAA to operate domestic cargo flights.

Allied Air Cargo / DHL - B737-400F - 5N-OTT (copyright Superspotter)

Allied Air Cargo / DHL – B737-400F – 5N-OTT (copyright Superspotter)

This week’s update

A couple of news bits:

  • The House of Representatives insists on banning Dana Air and firing NCAA’s MD Harold Demuren, who defended the re-certification of the airline.
  • The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) will start scraping old airplanes that are abandoned at airports next week.
  • The NCAA has expanded and revised a part of the civil aviation regulations.
  • Some controversy over the acquisition of new trainer aircraft for the International Aviation College, Ilorin. It’s not clear whether the aircraft will be financed by the Federal Government of by the Kwara State Government.
  • The Central Bank of Nigeria has increased the Airline Intervention Fund to give the sector a boost.
  • The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has approved night flight operations at Uyo Airport. The expansion of the airport will be ready in 2015.
  • The FAAN has yet another conflict with a concessionaire about a plot of land at Lagos Airport.
  • Flights were delayed in the past week due to the Harmattan haze.
  • Dana Air has added a fourth, early-morning flight between Lagos and Abuja on weekdays.
  • The Nigerian Air Force took delivery of a Hawker 4000 (5N-FGX; ex-N466HB). The aircraft was acquired as part of the renewal of the Presidential Air Fleet; it replaces a Hawker 800 (ex-5N-AGZ; now 5N-BOO).
  • Caverton Helicopter’s new Dash 6-400 Twin Otter (5N-SHE; ex-C-GUVA) is on its delivery flight from Canada to Nigeria.
  • TopBrass Aviation will likely get a third Dash 8-Q300 (5N-TBA; ex-5N-BIA). The aircraft is currently stored at Maastricht, but flew in Nigeria in the past with Aero.
  • Overland Airways’ second ATR 72-200 (5N-BPF; ex-F-WNUF) was spotted in Toulouse. The B737-800, reportedly, destined for Overland is still stored at Shannon.
  • No date has been set for the delivery of Arik Air’s A330s.
  • Kabo Air was to get a B747-400 (N135KB), an ex-Corsair aircraft, but is unable to finance the necessary maintenance checks.
  • Serious complaints were made about the management and solvency of Kabo Air and MaxAir on a pilots’ forum.
  • No news about the start-up airlines Azman Air, Discovery Air, and Hak Air. Discovery Air is set up by First Deepwater Discovery, of which Babatunde Babalola is the MD/CEO. Discovery Air is sourcing B737-300s.
  • The B737-200F (5N-BMS) operated on Wings Aviation’s AOC belongs to the former MD of Wings, Nogie Megginson. He also intends to set up a new commercial airline called  Jedidiah Air (Jed Air).
  • The Nigerian Air Force is sending Alpha Jets (NAF 452 and NAF 455) and MI-35s to Mali, while a C130H and G222 are used for transporting troops.
Nigerian Air Force  Lockheed C-130H Hercules (NAF 917) transporting troops from Kaduna to Bamako (copyright Dario El-Carabobeno)

Nigerian Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules (NAF 917) transporting troops from Kaduna to Bamako (copyright Dario El-Carabobeno)

New Bell 429s for NEMA and Police, and a Bell 206 for NCAT

Three new helicopters arrived at Lagos Airport this week. A Bell 429 EMS (5N-NEM) for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), as well as a Bell 206L-4 (5N-BZC) for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, where she will join her sistership 5N-BZB. The third, hidden chopper, a Bell 429 (5N-MDA), is the first of five helicopters of this type for the Police Air Wing.

Bell 429 - NEMA - 5N-???, Bell 429 - Police Air Wing - 5N-???, and Bell 206 - NCAT - 5N-BZC (copyright Superspotter)

Bell 429 – NEMA – 5N-NEM, Bell 429 – Police Air Wing – 5N-MDA, and Bell 206 – NCAT – 5N-BZC (copyright Superspotter)

Bell 429 - NEMA - 5N-???/ex-N465XB (copyright Superspotter)

Bell 429 – NEMA – 5N-NEM/ex-N465XB (copyright Superspotter)

Bell 429 - Nigeria Police Air Wing - 5N-???/ex-N446AB (coypright Superspotter)

Bell 429 – Nigeria Police Air Wing – 5N-MDA/ex-N466AB (coypright Superspotter)

Aero to introduce flights to Sokoto

Aero will later this month commence flight from Lagos to Sokoto via Abuja. Flights are available from 28 January 2013 onwards, and will be operated on weekdays and Sundays. Schedule:

  • ABV-SKO AJ251 08:00-09:15
  • SKO-ABV AJ252 10:00-11:15

The airline has suspended its Lagos-Warri-Port Harcourt NAF Base-route again.

Aviation photographers in Nigeria

There are very few aviation photographers in Nigeria. Some excellent series of pictures were made by Ken Iwelumo (click here and here) and Akinwale Makinde (click here and here) over the past years, despite the restrictions on photographing at Nigerian airports. Hopefully, more aviation enthusiasts will be able to share the Nigerian aviation scene with the wider world in the near future.

Virgin Nigeria's fleet at Lagos Airport (copyright Ken Iwelumo)

Virgin Nigeria’s fleet at Lagos Airport (copyright Ken Iwelumo)

Old Kaduna Airport  (copyright Akinwale Makinde)

Old Kaduna Airport (copyright Akinwale Makinde)

Blogger Chippla Vandu wrote a nice piece on spotting at Lagos in the 1990s a couple of years ago.

FG needs two years to acquire aircraft for airlines

According to a local newspaper, it will possibly take up to two years before the Federal Government can actually allocate new aircraft to the domestic carriers. The main hurdle to be cleared for the acquisition of the thirty aircraft is a financial one: the authorities still have to work out a way to obtain funding for the purchase of a fleet of aircraft. The plan of the Minister of Aviation to acquire thirty aircraft has been criticised as misplaced, and the stakeholders in the industry are complaining that they are not involved in the decision-making process.

All in all, it appears that the Minister of Aviation is not very effective in implementing her policies:

  • Of the eleven domestic airports that would be renovated in 2012 none has been finished, and there are complaints about the low quality of the jobs being done.
  • The new GA Terminal in Lagos was opened in a hurry. The terminal is far from functional and poorly constructed. Furthermore, the legal issues with the owners of MMA Terminal 2 are not yet resolved.
  • There are unanswered questions about the financing of the renovation and building of airport terminals.
  • The emergency runway lights installed at Lagos Airport can only be used by departing flights, and the threshold lights are often blasted away by aircraft.
  • The Minister promised she would tackle the price disparity by taking action against British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, but after the initial fuss, the whole case has gone quiet.
  • She announced that she would revise the BASA agreements with several countries, but nothing seems to have happened.
  • A new national carrier was supposed to start services before 2013, but this promise was not fulfilled either.
  • The Aerotropolis project and an expensive ‘road-show’ to the USA, Canada and China did not yield any visible results.
  • The Minister of Aviation was accused by politicians of denying foreign airlines access to Kano.

Now, it would be wrong to judge the tenure of this Minister of Aviation as a failure. But, most of her initiatives are surrounded by controversies, and she does not appear to be very effective in achieving her own goals. Of course, she is acting in a difficult political context, but acting for the sake of acting is not enough for sound policy making. And given the current state of affairs, her media advisors and officials should be cautious with writing self-congratulatory pieces (NAMA and FAAN) or with spreading conspiracy theories as an excuse.

We have uncovered an advanced plot by a well-known hireling to blackmail, smear and tarnish the image and reputation of the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah with the sole aim of distracting her from consolidating the gains already recorded in the transformation of the Aviation sector in line with the Transformation Agenda of the Federal government.

Arik Air and Air Côte d’Ivoire may enter partnership

Arik Air and Air Côte d’Ivoire are exploring the possibility of a partnership to resolve the challenges of intra-Africa connections.

The officials of Air Côte d’Ivoire, the new carrier in the French-speaking West African country, said they visited Arik Air to seek ways of exploring mutual partnership between the two carriers to resolve the problem intra Africa connections. The officials led by General Coulibaly Abdoulaye, who is chairman of the Air Côte d’Ivoire explained that the visit to Arik Air has afforded them the opportunity to learn how to run a service driven airline, which would become a model in Africa. He explained that the partnership would also equip the carrier with the strategy of achieving how to build a hub for the southern part of Central Africa, remarking that since the former regional carrier, Air Afrique collapsed, there had been no direct air link between Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire. He further explained that the best model for building stronger airlines in Africa was through partnership among carriers, insisting that the visit to Arik Air has afforded the officials the window to obtain first-hand experience of running a service oriented airline.

Arik Air has announced various partnerships with West African countries – Leone Airways and Ghana Airways – over the past years, but none of the projects actually materialised, apart from the short-lived Arik Niger.

The Federal Government also appears to be restrictive in allowing other West African carriers to operate into Lagos or Abuja Airport. In recent years, now defunct Air Ivoire and Senegal Airlines were unsuccessful in obtaining landing rights, while Fly540 Ghana, Gambia Bird and Westair Bénin are still awaiting permission to start flights to Nigeria.

Nigerian airports handle 13.4 million passengers in 2012

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) recorded a total of 13.4 million passengers in 2012. This is an increase of 2.4 million over the 11 million passengers handled in 2011. The breakdown of the numbers per airport is not yet available.

Note: FAAN gave the following statement refuting the abovementioned numbers:

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria wishes to correct a false information stating that 13.4 million was recorded as the passenger traffic for the year 2012. The figure said to emanate from FAAN is false in its entirety. For the avoidance of doubt, the traffic figure for the year 2012 is being collated as at press time. We recorded a positive passenger growth of 17.2% between January – June, 2009 and not a negative growth as reported in some news outlets. The negative growth recorded was in the international aircraft movement as a result of the airlines using larger aircraft. This however did not affect the international passenger growth. The passenger traffic figure published for the year 2010 puts the passenger traffic at 13, 981, 677 while that of 2011 stands at 14, 834, 269. This clarification has become necessary as the incorrect figure is being quoted as authentic. The Authority wishes to place on record its appreciation for inquiries being made to verify information.

FAAN also announced that the renovation of Kaduna Airport will be ready in three months. Furthermore, the agency will install electronic toll gates at Abuja Airport to improve the traffic flow. However, FAAN’s efforts to remove all derelict aircraft from airports across the country are hampered by the aircrafts’ owners.

Azikel Air to build a hangar at future Bayelsa Airport

Azikel Air has signed a deal with Castle Air to design and construct a helicopter maintenance hangar at the yet to be constructed Bayelsa Airport, which will be located in Southern Ijaw Local Government. The charter airline, part of the Azikel Group, operates a Hawker 800XP (N500AZ) and an Agusta A109S helicopter (M-AZKL).

Azikel Air - Agusta A109S Grand - M-AZKL

Azikel Air – Agusta A109S Grand – M-AZKL

PICOMSS ‘spy plane’: Cessna 206

Apparently, the Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS), a security outfit, operates a 2001-built Cessna 206H Turbo (5N-BKT) for surveillance work. PICOMSS also has a Beechcraft 350 King Air (5N-BMP) and a Diamond DA42 MPP (5N-BKS); the latter was involved in a landing incident at Benin Airport in July 2012.

Cessna 206H - PICOMSS - 5N-BKT (copyright Skywalker)

Cessna 206H – PICOMSS – 5N-BKT (copyright Skywalker)

Bayelsa State to construct a VIP airstrip

The Bayelsa State government has allocated N2,5 billion for the construction of an airstrip in Yenagoa, along the Amassoma, Ogobiri and Egbedi axis. The project is handled by Dantata and Sawoe, and should be completed within a year. The new airstrip will ‘serve as a landing-place for aircraft, largely non-commercial airlines, transporting dignitaries’, who now have to travel to Port Harcourt Airport. Apart from this State-owned VIP airstrip, the Federal Government is currently also building an airport in Bayelsa State.

Dana Air resumes Abuja-Lagos flights

Dana Air has resumed commercial operations on Thursday, 3 January 2012. The airline, operating a fleet of five MD83s, operated a single positioning flight from Lagos to Abuja in the afternoon. Scheduled operations will restart on Friday, with a three daily Abuja-Lagos service. Schedule:

  • ABV-LOS 9J350 07:20-08:37 (Monday-Saturday)
  • ABV-LOS 9J350 09:00-10:17 (Sunday)
  • ABV-LOS 9J354 12:06-13:23 (Daily)
  • ABV-LOS 9J356 16:29-17:37 (Daily)
  • LOS-ABV 9J353 09:45-10:53 (Daily)
  • LOS-ABV 9J355 14:22-15:30 (Daily)
  • LOS-ABV 9J359 18:36-19:53 (Daily)

Dana Air is the first Nigerian airline to provide a flight tracker. The airline plans to replace its MD83 fleet with new B737s in the coming months.

Dana Air - MD83 - 5N-DEV

Dana Air – MD83 – 5N-DEV