The Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at Uyo Airport, Akwa Ibom, is nearing its completion. On request of the State Government, the Federal Government pledged support for the project, and the facility will become a national hangar. However, a nice and large hangar does not necessarily mean that the technical knowledge and man power will be available to run the facility and provide high-quality maintenance services. Who will become responsible for operating the facility and provide maintenance services? Will domestic and foreign airlines be interested in using the facility? Recently, the NCAA stated that there is a need for a major maintenance hangar at Lagos. The major airlines, Arik Air and Aero, already have their own facilities in place, while new hangars have been built at Lagos for private and corporate jet owners, which already harbour a number of Approved Maintenance Organisations (AMO). For unknown reasons, the authorities are reluctant to allow the construction of private hangars at Abuja Airport, meaning that all but the presidential jets are always exposed to outside weather conditions.
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.
This week’s round-up:
- Med-View Airline will commence domestic operations next month, as the airline was granted an AOC by the NCAA.
- CHC Nigeria has received an AOC too. The international company will serve the oil and gas industry in partnership with Jagal. CHC was already active on the Nigerian market, but their contract with Aero was terminated in 2010.
- MCM, Maintenance Centre Malta, has received approved maintenance organization (AMO) for their line and base maintenance facility in Malta from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
- The new domestic GAT Terminal at Lagos Airport will be opened on Monday, according to the Minister of Aviation. Arik Air and Overland Airways are the main carriers using the GAT Terminal, while Aero and IRS Airlines are operating from MMA Terminal 2.
- The Minister of Aviation also announced that the Federal Government will create a ‘pool of aircraft’, which can then be ‘hired’ by the domestic airlines.
- The Federal Government will purchase two more VIP helicopters for the Presidential Air Fleet in 2013. The president already has to VIP AW139s (NAF540 and NAF541) at his disposal. To accommodate the growing fleet, a new hangar will be built at Abuja Airport.
- The employees of Uyo Airport blocked access road to the airport on Friday, 19 October, protesting their labour conditions. All flights were cancelled.
Aero announced it will commence daily flights between Abuja and Uyo per 9 July 2012. Flight schedule:
- AJ157 Abuja – Uyo 12:45-13:55
- AJ158 Uyo – Abuja 12:45-13:55
Aero already operates daily flights between Lagos and Uyo. Uyo Airport, Akwa Ibom, is also served by Arik Air and until recently by Dana Air.
- Aero has doubled its daily flights from Lagos to Calabar, Kano and Uyo (schedules).
- Aero’s fourth B737-400 (5N-BOB) was ferried to Lasham for painting.
- Arik Air will end its lease and lease back construction with HiFly soon. The two A345s will be transferred to the Nigerian registry and operated on Arik’s own AOC. CS-TFX will become 5N-JIA and CS-TFW will be re-registered 5N-JIB.
- Intrepid Aviation has denied that it will be leasing (up to) four A330s to Arik Air.
- Arik Air’s B738 (5N-MJP) returned into service after maintenance work at Smith Reynolds Airport.
- EgyptAir is reported to have agreed a one-year wet-lease of two of its A330-200 aircraft to Air Nigeria from May and June 2012.
- FirstNation Airways has temporarily suspended its daily Lagos-Port Harcourt flight due to the lack of operational aircraft.
- Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates have signed an air services Memorandum of Understanding, which allows an increase in all-cargo frequency entitlements for the designated carriers of the two countries.
- A new start-up, Gambia Birds, is planning to commence flights between Banjul and Lagos.
- The Nigerian Air Force inaugurated a helicopter maintenance hangar for its fleet at Lagos Airport.
- Nigeria has successfully concluded a pilot project to change to satellite based navigation system.
- A ring road and an additional car park will be constructed at Abuja Airport.
- Akwa Ibom State Government has awarded a contract worth about N12 billion for the construction of a taxiway at Uyo Airport.
- Delta State Government has approved a N7.4 billion contract for the demolition of hills surrounding Asaba Airport to allow for bigger aircraft to land. The airport has still to pass the necessary safety audits.
- Kebbi State Government has disclosed that it will upgrade the Ambursa Airstrip to an international airport.
- Nasarawa State approved a N1 billion budget to carry forward with plans to build an cargo airport at Kwandere, near the state capital Lafia.
- A nice report on the numerous unused state airports in Nigeria can be found here, but it seems that Zamfara State and Ogun State abandoned plans to construct cargo airports.
- The Nigerian-owned Challenger 300 (ex 3B-SSD) has been repainted and is now registered VQ-BMJ. Officially, the aircraft is owned by Churchill Finance Services, but it was put up for sale in 2012.
- Air Nigeria signed a deal with EgyptAir to train its A330 crews, so it seems the airline is still planning to introduce two A330-200s to its fleet this year.
- The January 2012 Nigeria Aviation Fact Sheet of the US Embassy in Nigeria.
- The NCAA has published its Passengers’s Bill of Rights aimed at protecting airline customers in Nigeria.
- Reportedly, Prince Arthur Ikpechukwu Eze acquired a second GIV (M-PZPZ); he already owns 5N-PZE.
A few bits of news:
- The first international flight from Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo, will be operated on 8 January 2011. Sky Airlines will operate the charter flight and carry 215 Christian pilgrims to Tel Aviv, Israel, with a B737-900. An A330-200 will carry another 324 pilgrims next week. This is the first widebody airline to land in Uyo.
- IRS Airlines will acquire three more F100s this year and intends to open the Abuja-Calabar route. Calabar would be the airline’s eight domestic destination.
- The FAAN has acquired 5 fire tenders for Lagos Airport, new toilets have been installed at the airport, and the agency promised to boost power supply.
- The FAAN also increased security measures at the airports throughout Nigeria.
The new domestic terminal building of Mallam Aminu International Airport, Kano, will be commissioned on 27 January 2011.
- Ekiti State has to speed up the commencement of work on the new Ekiti Airport.
- Arik Air aims to consolidate its position in the new year and expand a little bit in West-Africa. The airline also hopes to carry Christian pilgrims from Enugu Airport to Israel.
- Air India may resume flights from Mumbai to Lagos this year, meanwhile China Southern has again cancelled the announced Guangzhou-Dubai-Lagos service.
According to the latest information, Arik Air will recommence its suspended daily flights from Abuja and Lagos to Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo, on November 29.
One of the airline’s B737-700s (5N-MJI) returned to Lagos from Southend this week after months of storage and overhaul.
Arik Air has postponed the relaunch of flights from Lagos and Abuja to Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo, which would have commenced today. No explanations have been given by the airline for the postponement.
On the occasion of Arik Air’s fourth year anniversary, the following announcements were made:
- The airline has up to date carried 5.8million passengers and has over 40 per cent of the traffic share in Nigeria.
- The airline has invested over $6.1 billion in acquisitions and orders in the past four years.
- The airline is awaiting approval from the Federal Government to develop the GAT terminal that will be owned by government and operated by FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria).
- The airline promoted Chris Ndulue from acting Managing Director to MD.
- The airline will provide charter services for Christian pilgrims to Israel.
The following routes will be introduced/cancelled this month:
- Re-introduction of Garden City Express (daily Lagos-Port Harcourt NAF Base-Abuja flights) per 1 November.
- Re-Introduction of daily Lagos-Uyo-Abuja flights per 15 November.
- Akure and Ilorin are dropped as destinations.
- Arik Air intends to start a three weekly service between Port Harcourt NAF Base and Benin (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays) later this month.
- Upcoming are also new regional routes to Abidjan, Bamako and Ouagadougou.
Dana Air has announced that it will commence scheduled operations to Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo, as from Monday, January 18, 2010. The airline will offer services from Uyo to Lagos and Abuja:
- Lagos-Uyo: 9J1999 – 10:35-11:50
- Uyo-Lagos: 9J1998 – 15:30-16:50
- Uyo-Abuja: 9J341 – 12:15-13:25
- Abuja-Uyo: 9J340 – 13:50-15:05
Dana Air suspended its flights to Enugu and reduced the frequency from its daily flights between Lagos and Abuja from six to five, in order to open this new route. The airline has only four MD-83s (ex-Alaska Airlines).
It seems that Arik Air will not return to Akwa Ibom Airport soon, after a row about payments to be made by the state governent.
While the Federal Government aims at privatising the airports under FAAN management, several state governments are currently building their own airports. Here is a list of state airports currently under construction or proposed in Nigeria:
- Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo: partly completed
- Anambra State Airport, Umueri: proposed
- Bayelsa Airport, Yenagoa: proposed
- Asaba Airport, Delta State: under construction
- Ekiti State Airport: proposed
- Lagos State, Lekki International Airport: proposed
- Minna Cargo Airport, Niger State, reconstruction proposed
- Ogun State Cargo Airport: proposed
- Osun State Airport, Ido-Osun, under construction
- Jalingo Airport, Taraba State, under construction
- Zamfara Cargo Airport, Gusau: proposed
Time will tell whether all proposed airports will be built eventually. However, a national master plan should be developed to ensure the economic viability of the existing and new airports. Building an airport seems to be one of the most popular prestige projects a Nigerian state governor can think of nowadays.
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.
In addition to the new Lagos-Cotonou-Dakar-Lagos route, Arik Air commenced four weekly Abuja-Accra-Dakar/Banjul services (Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) this week. All flights are operated with B737-700s.
- Abuja-Accra 19:45-20:35 (Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday)
- Accra-Abuja 06:30-9:20 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday)
- Accra-Banjul 21:20-00:10 (Sunday and Friday)
- Banjul-Accra 02:45-05:35 (Monday and Saturday)
- Accra-Dakar 21:20-00:20 (Tuesday and Thursday)
- Dakar-Accra 02:15-05:35 (Wednesday and Friday)
- Lagos-Cotonou 21:20-22:00 (Monday and Friday)
- Lagos-Dakar 21:20-00:10 (Sunday and Wednesday)
- Cotonou-Dakar 22:40-01:00 (Monday and Saturday)
- Dakar-Cotonou 02:00-06:20 (Sunday and Tuesday)
- Cotonou-Lagos 07:00-07:40 (Sunday and Tuesday)
- Dakar-Lagos 01:00-05:50 (Monday and Thursday)
The flights to Dakar and Banjul are in addition of the four weekly Lagos-Freetown-Dakar-Banjul service.
The airline also aims at commencing flights to the new Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo. Test flights are currently being conducted.