Following the acquisition of a majority stake in Nigerian Eagle Airlines (formerly Virgin Nigeria Airways), the new owner, Jimoh Ibrahim, renamed the airline ‘Air Nigeria‘. This is the second rebranding of the airline within a year’s time. The colours and tail logo remain the same as the Nigerian Eagle brand. Air Nigeria’s first B737-300 (5N-VND) was pictured with the new titles at Shannon.
A few updates:
- Arik Air silently accepted a new A330-200 (5N-EIA) this week, but the introduction of the aircraft on the LOS-JNB route is delayed till June 7.
- Virgin Nigeria/Nigerian Eagle Airlines will increase its daily number of flights between Lagos to Abuja from four to seven, effective June 14. One of its three B733s (5N-VND) was ferried to Shannon, perhaps for a new coat of paint.
- Shell Nigeria signed a $630 million aviation logistics deal with Caverton Helicopters, partly because of the new Nigerian Content Development Act. Caverton and its technical partner DanCopter from Denmark will replace Bristow Helicopters.
- The Central Bank of Nigeria extended a N500 billion fund meant to stimulate credit to the power and manufacturing sectors to support the aviation industry. Airlines can now partake from the fund and those that are indebted to banks can refinance their loans and amortise them over a period of ten to fifteen years.
- Delta Air Lines will commence its seasonal direct Abuja – New York JFK service on the 3rd of June, substituting the flights via Dakar. The three weekly flights will be operated with a B763. This means direct competition for Arik Air’s three weekly Lagos – New York JFK service.
- Delta Air Lines and Virgin Nigeria are still working on a codeshare agreement.
- The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) is set to award a contract for the expansion of both the arrival and departure halls of Benin Airport.
- The opening of the new Asaba Airport is delayed till December 2010.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Nigerian airlines are all heavily indebted and have severe financial problems. Read an update on the situation here.
Three short news bits:
- The claimed deal between Nigerian Eagle Airlines (formerly Virgin Nigeria) and Jimoh Ibrahim didn’t work out.
- Air MidWest uploaded its flight schedule (serving Abuja, Lagos and Owerri). It is not clear when the first flight of this new airline will take place.
- The restart of Bellview Airlines has been postponed again till 1 May 2010.
Nigerian Eagle (formerly Virgin Nigeria) dropped two domestic destinations from its schedule. Kano and Owerri are no longer served by the airline, reducing the number of domestic destinations to four.
Nigerian Eagle Airlines also made changes to its regional flight schedule, but maintained its eight destinations for now.
Nigerian Eagle Airlines also swapped its order for seven EMB-170s for seven EMB-190s recently. It’s uncertain if the airline will ever take delivery of the aircraft.
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.
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.
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.
Just a few minor reports:
Chanchangi Airlines reduced its daily flights between Lagos and Abuja from five to three. The schedule on their website has not been updated however. Reportedly, the airline has serious financial problems.
Bellview Airlines has postponed the re-start of its Lagos-London service to 1 March, 2010. Again, the airline has sold tickets without being able to provide any flights.
An EMB-170 (PT-TQE) destined for Nigerian Eagle Airlines as 5N-VNJ has been ferried from Brazil to Casablanca. It’s unlikely Nigerian Eagle Airlines will take delivery of the aircraft though, as it wil reportedly be leased to Gulf Air.
Nigerian Eagle Airlines introduced special onboard envelopes on flights across its route network this week to raise funds to support the ongoing humanitarian and rescue activities in Haiti.
The governor of Gombe State announced that a second airline will start daily services to Gombe Airport this year. Arik Air currently has a four weekly service from Abuja to Gombe.
The World Bank financed ten fire trucks for Port Harcourt Airport, but overall the Nigerian agencies are slow in implementing other aviation infrastructure projects.
The new Asaba Airport, Delta State, will be ready for operations in April 2010.
Jos Airport was closed this week due to civil unrest. Aero, Arik Air and Overland Airways cancelled their flights to the airport.
Since Virgin Nigeria was renamed Nigerian Eagle Airlines few things changed, except that four planes were repainted. Even on its own website, the airline uses both names. More confusing is that the airlines has a Virgin Nigeria-website and a Fly Nigerian-website, with different flight schedules. This should be an issue that can be easily solved, but it looks like they are sticking to the Virgin Nigeria name.
The airline update its schedules and added new flights on the Lagos-Kano-Lagos route:
- LOS-KAN – VK31 – 07:10-08:50 (Monday till Saturday)
- KAN-LOS – VK30 – 18:20-20:00 (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays)
- KAN-LOS – VK30 – 18:40-20:20 (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays)
Nigerian Eagle Airlines (formerly Virgin Nigeria Airways) is planning to raise at least $185 million over the next six months. A private placement memorandum has been issued through Nigerian bank UBA Capital. Consultancy Ernst & Young has meanwhile been brought in to seek out potential equity partners. A potential private buyer would want a controlling stake of 51% or more, comprising Virgin Atlantic’s 49% and some of the shares held by Nigerian institutional investors.
Around $50 million would be used to pay back part of a $100 million convertible bond held by UBA. The remainder would be used for capital projects. The airline is looking to convert the order to a lease arrangement, and if unsuccessful may tap rock-bottom prices to grow its Boeing 737-300 fleet.
Full article here.
Nigerian Eagle Airlines passed the IOSA-audit again, as its first certification expired in November, 2009. Bellview Airlines’ registration will expire on Monday, December 21, 2009, leaving Nigerian Eagle Airlines the only IOSA certified airline in West and Central Africa. Arik Air and Chanchangi Airlines are currently undergoing an IOSA-audit.
The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) program is an internationally recognized and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.
Arik Air has commenced daily flights from Lagos and Abuja to the new Akwa Ibom Airport, Okobo near Uyo. Schedules are:
- Lagos-Uyo: 10:40-11:55
- Uyo-Lagos: 15:55-17:10
- Abuja-Uyo: 14:15-15:25
- Uyo-Abuja: 12:25-13:35
The airline deploys a B737-700 on the route. Arik Air maintains its twice daily flights from Calabar to Abuja and Lagos. Most travellers to Akwa Ibom were using this airport. Nigerian Eagle Airlines withdrew it services to Calabar this week.
The new Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo, was commissioned in September 2009. A Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility and car park are still under construction.
Nigerian Eagle Airlines signed a MOU with Delta Air Lines to explore the possibilities of commercial cooperation. The marketing agreement should result in sharing frequent flyer programmes and in a codeshare partnership. An agreement would enable customers from Nigerian Eagle Airlines’ domestic and regional network to connect to Delta’s transatlantic flights to Atlanta and New York.
Nigerian Eagle Airlines is trying to strengthen its position in Nigeria by entering interline and codeshare alliances with several (African) airlines. For Delta a partnership with Nigerian Eagle Airlines would counterbalance the strong position of Arik Air in the West African market.
Nigerian Eagle Airlines dropped Calabar from its schedule as of this week. The airline is now down to six domestic destinations. The three weekly service from Abuja to Accra has been cancelled too.
However, the airline increased frequencies from Lagos to several of its destinations:
- Daily: Lagos-Owerri-Lagos, Lagos-Douala-Lagos, Lagos-Kano (via Abuja)
- Four weekly: Lagos-Libreville (via Douala)
- Thrice weekly: Lagos-Monrovia (via Accra), Lagos-Cotonou-Abidjan-Cotonou-Lagos, Abidjan-Dakar-Abidjan (New Route)
Nigerian Eagle Airlines is looking to convert its Embraer aircraft order to a lease arrangement and, if unsuccessful, may tap rock-bottom prices to grow its Boeing 737-300 fleet.
Nigerian Eagle chief executive Dapo Olumide said the airline “can’t afford” the new aircraft, so is looking to switch to a lease arrangement. It is also keen to sell the aircraft that have already been delivered, along with the six options.
“This was a very ambitious order,” says Olumide. “Where were they going to get the money from? We are in discussions with Embraer on how to restructure the order. By that I don’t mean delaying the order, but how to make it more affordable.”
“Because of the rock-bottom  prices, it’s like going to the $1 store,” he says. “I’ve got a serious dilemma over whether I go for the cheap or the quality option.”
Nigerian Eagle is looking to operate a fleet of about 20 aircraft by 2011, says Olumide. One option is an all-Boeing 737-300 fleet. Another is to retain the five 737-300s, which are needed on longer sectors, and lease 15-16 Embraers in order to lower Nigerian Eagle’s finance costs.
Read the full article here.
Nigerian Eagle Airlines currently operates two EMB-190s and five B733s, which will be joined by two EMB-170s in December. If the airline opts for old Boeing aircraft, it will be difficult for Nigerian Eagle Airlines to effectively compete with Arik Air.