Nigeria One, the planned new Nigerian national carrier, will officially be unveiled to the Nigerian public on the country's 53rd Independence Day on October 1. The carrier's core will reportedly be formed from various local airlines who are indebted to the Nigerian government via its Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) with Aero (AJ) and the now defunct Air Nigeria (VK) listed among them.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Monday, August 12, 2013
Air Nigeria (VK) could make a return to the skies, albeit under new ownership and management, the current CEO of the airline, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, has stated. Speaking on the tenth anniversary of the founding of his group of companies, Global Fleet, Mr Ibrahim said his board of directors would meet over the coming week to discuss the future of the airline, which ceased operations in September 2012.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Two carriers are looking to start domestic operations in Nigeria shortly: Azman Airlines and Jedair, a former charter airline that has reportedly entered into an ACMI deal with a Canadian firm.
Friday, November 23, 2012
[UPDATE 23 NOVEMBER 2012] Nigerian private carrier Arik Air (W3), is to launch a 3x weekly (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) service between Lagos, Nigeria and Douala, Cameroon using a Boeing 737-700, starting Thursday 30 August 2012.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
On a day of two contrasting fortunes, Jimoh Ibrahim's troubled venture Air Nigeria (VK), having teetered on the brink of collapse for some time, is to call it quits from 10 September 2012 following months of uncertainty in which leased aircraft were ceased, company directors arrested and allegations of safety oversights and tax evasion.
In a statement, the company's management blamed the suspension of operations on "staff disloyalty and a weak business environment" though remained resolute in the possibility of returning to viability next year by retaining 50 "loyal" members of staff from various departments, selected with a mandate to recommence operations within 12 months. All other employees however, had been laid off effective from their last day of work on their various routes.
Friday, July 6, 2012
Global aircraft lessors General Electric Capital Aviation Services, better known in the aviation industry as GECAS, have dealt yet another blow to ailing Nigerian carrier, Air Nigeria (VK) by repossessing the four Boeing 737-300s (5N-VNC, 5N-VND, 5N-VNE and 5N-VNJ) it leased to the airline, over the latter's inability to settle its monthly financial obligations.
In a statement on its website (which has now been offline for over 2 days), Air Nigeria said:
"Subsequent to the temporary suspension of Air Nigeria’s regional and domestic flight operations by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), our lessors have been requesting to repossess some of the aircraft in our fleet and we are fully cooperating to return their aircraft. GECAS, one of our lessors, is already in the process of calling back four of their Boeing 737-300 aircraft and Air Nigeria is fully cooperating in line with the Cape Town Convention to expedite the repossession process.
Air Nigeria 737 '5N-VNJ' (Javier R)
Air Nigeria plans to acquire state-of-the-art aircraft to fill the reduction in capacity and is currently finalizing plans to resume normal flight operations across the regional and domestic routes as soon as possible.
We would also like to inform that the scheduled Lagos – London – Lagos flight operation is not affected by the temporary suspension directive of the NCAA and passengers are therefore encouraged to proceed with their confirmed itinerary while intending customers can make their reservations."Read More Here [Nigerian Bulletin]
Despite Air Nigeria's claims that its international operation to London Gatwick has been unaffected, it has, however, been forced to indefinitely postpone the start of its vaunted Lagos-Johannesburg route, after it emerged that the embattled airline has been having "difficulty in honouring its agreement with EgyptAir, lessor of Air Nigeria's current A330-200; a second Airbus A330-200 needed to start Johannesburg (SU-GCJ) is still parked at Cairo."
Air Nigeria has persistently denied rumours of financial irregularities and difficulties at the airline, though recent events in the last month or so have not done anything to quell rampant speculation that the carrier is about to tank: a run-in with the Nigerian Federal Inland Revenue Service over unpaid back taxes, and a suspension of regional and domestic services by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority over safety concerns following a major strike by Air Nigeria pilots and engineers over those very concerns and others.
So, how much longer is Jimoh Ibrahim's venture going to last with all this turmoil and uncertainty? Or will we be forced to write an obituary in the weeks (or days) to come..
Friday, June 22, 2012
The local civil aviation scene in Nigeria continues to undergo a severe shake up as a consequence of the Dana Air Flight 9J-997 tragedy.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
In the ongoing saga that is Air Nigeria (VK) - having first been grounded by a strike, then a public slinging match with an ex manager over air safety and financial indebtedness, then by an investigation into its airworthiness - has now had its Managing Director, Kinfe Kahssay, arrested over failure by the airline to remit USD$31.4million (NgN4,87billion) in taxes to the Federal Internal Revenue Services (FIRS), Nigeria's tax man.
An FIRS statement read:
"The arrest is aimed at recovering arrears of taxes accruing to government from Withholding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT). The enforcement is part of a bigger move to recover the N170. I Billion (N170'132'089'411.46) outstanding taxes owed to government by public and private organisations as well as ensure that all taxpayers are captured in the tax net."
Armed police raided Air Nigeria's offices on Monday morning and took Kahssay away for interrogation, where, it is alleged he "agreed that Air Nigeria had tax liabilities but pleaded for more time to clear the bills."
However, Air Nigeria in a press release on its website moved to distance itself from the debacle claiming that the taxes in question, in actuality, dated back to the day's of Richard Branson's Virgin Nigeria Airlines and were still to be settled with the Nigerian Government and questioned as to why the FIRS had "spent the past 8 years doing nothing".
"The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) stormed Air Nigeria office on Monday, 18 June 2012, with mobile policemen armed with guns to demand for past taxes allegedly owed during the period when Mr. Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic was running Virgin Nigeria, now Air Nigeria. These taxes have been in dispute and needed to be reconciled and agreed upon."
The airline then goes on to allege that the last 2 incidents (see the opening paragraph) have been part of a greater conspiracy to see the airline fail.
Read More Here [Air Nigeria Press Release]"We suspect that one other line of action will be coming in the coming week to further attempt to damage us in the public eye; but we assure the instigator of such uncivilized approach that Air Nigeria will not compromise its corporate values and development strategy. "
So, if Air Nigeria's prophecies are true, what will happen next? Stay tuned for another thrilling episode...
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
If its not strikes grounding Air Nigeria (VK), then its likely government departments acting too little, too late in the interests of public safety.
Ten days after Dana Air flight 9J-992's tragic crash whilst on approach into Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport in which 153 people perished, Harold Demuren, the Director-General of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) himself under heavy pressure since June 3, ordered grounded, the country's second largest carrier so as to carry out a safety audit.
"It is a routine action to enable us look at the airline’s operations before allowing it to go back to operations again, having been on strike for days. This is normal." quoted NCAA spokesman Sam Adurogboye.
Air Nigeria boss Jimoh Ibrahim swiftly moved to deny that his airline had been grounded insisting instead, that his airline had willingly ceased operations of its own volition, and not, as reported, under duress.
“We are not grounded by anybody, but we decided not to fly today because we just felt that we should reorganize and create particular awareness because we’re coming out of (a) strike,” Ibrahim said. He said flights should resume Thursday.
The whole debacle started, it seems, with the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) strike of 1 June where one of the grievances was that management had not availed enough money to the Engineers to allow them to maintain the aircraft adequately. On ending the week-long strike, NAAPE President Isaac Balami rescinded that claim, and restated that in actuality, the strike had only been about "social benefits".
Then, following the Dana Air crash, John I. Nnorom, a former Executive Director for Finance at Air Nigeria who resigned his appointment with the airline on April 1, 2012, published a stinging article in the Nigerian press, condemning Air Nigeria's safety record, and imploring people not to fly the airline for safety reasons.
Read More Here [SaharReporters]
"He (Nnorom) disclosed that Air Nigeria is in financial crisis because money loaned by Bank of Industry of N35.5Billion has been diverted into Mr. Ibrahim’s NICON INVESTMENT LTD, a non-finance company popularly called wonder bank, leading to air safety being compromised, and stressed that there is a great possibility of a disastrous Air Nigeria crash, which can occur at any time.
John Nnorom (MercyJohnson)
He recalled that in Jan 2012, Licensed Engineers in Air Nigeria went on strike because they were being forced to certify unfit aircraft into the air, and another strike was averted in March 2012 following the intervention of the DG-NCAA, Demureen. Both events, he said, were based on failure on Failure To Meet Safety Standard, and are verifiable information the public is aware of."
Naturally, Air Nigeria moved to rebuff Nnorom's claims by labelling him an "illiterate in the maintenance of aircraft and a criminal".
Then, Nigerian Press investigations revealed that Air Nigeria's claims to have signed a deal to buy four Boeing 787 Dreamliners for $887 million through a loan with the U.S. Export-Import Bank was denied to The Associated Press by officials at both Boeing and the bank
So, could there be an element of truth in Nnorom's claims? Or is he simply a butthurt ex-employee out to smear his former employers?
In the end, the age old dictum that states "there are three sides to every story: Yours, mine and the truth" is most relevant, though when dealing with Nigeria one can only be assured of ever hearing the "Yours and Mine" part; the Truth? Well good luck with that one...
Monday, June 11, 2012
Nigerian carrier Air Nigeria (VK), has again put back the date of its intended Lagos - Johannesburg, South Africa service, this time 'til 1 July 2012.
|Air Nigeria flights to Joburg|
Initially, the service had been slated to start on 16 May, that date was then delayed until 17 June, before finally being put back to July 1. Whether this new delay has anything to do with the only recently ended Pilots & Engineers Union NAAPE strike, which took its toll on the airline punctuality-wise, is uncertain.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Air Nigeria (VK) has come clean and admitted that a 5 day old strike by members of the Nigerian Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) is starting to impact its domestic and regional flights, though its international operation to London Gatwick has remained unaffected.
The NAAPE strike is focussed around 4 core issues namely:
- Delayed payment of salaries to both local and foreign staff
- Pension deductions not remitted for over seven (7) months
- Co-operative deductions not yet remitted
- Tax refund and tax clearance issues
|Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos|
Air Nigeria management however, has refused to budge from its own position and in a statement has labelled the strike as "blackmail" and "uncalled for" and claimed that the union did not seek recourse in order to resolve their grievances. It also alleged that the NAAPE was in cahoots with competitors jealous of Air Nigeria's progress.
"It is very unreasonable and cheap blackmail for NAAPE to embark on strike action based on non payment of May salaries at the mid night of May 31st when infact some of the staff had collected their salaries with the rest of the staff still being processed.
It is therefore illegal and criminal for NAAPE to allow itself to be used by Competitors, who are envious of the giant steps already taken by Air Nigeria and Management is already working on a policy that will put a permanent stop to this cheap blackmail’
Passengers at Lagos' Murtala Muhammad International Airport have been subject to delays and flight cancellations which has led to angry scenes at check-in counters and ticket booths.
The NAAPE has been a perpetual thorn in the side of Air Nigeria's management, as in November of last year, they again moved to strike following the sacking of Air Nigeria's Head of Maintenance Department James Erigba, because of a disagreement over an aircraft's airworthiness.
Monday, May 21, 2012
With the successful launch last week of its Lagos - London (Gatwick) service using a leased Egyptair A330-200, Air Nigeria has announced that its next A330 is to arrive "in the next 20 days" with it to be deployed on their Lagos - Dubai route.
Also outlined were plans for a future Rome and Paris route (previously reported here by The African Aviation Tribune) where the chairman of Air Nigeria, Jimo Ibrahim, stated there was significant potential for business.
"He disclosed that data available from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) showed that 58,000 passengers travelled to Rome last year; adding that Italian airline, Alitalia carried only 27,000 of these people and the rest were carried by other foreign carriers.“So there is a beckoning market to those destinations. ‘So we will be flying Lagos-Rome-Paris. ‘We have got government approval to fly to Rome, Paris, Johannesburg and Dubai. We will start flying to Dubai before the end of this quarter”, he said."
|Air Nigeria A330 at London Gatwick (Skylineraviation.de)|
Of particular interest however, was the ambitious goal of turning Air Nigeria into a public listed company by 2014.
But, can this be done, given the previous disasters that were Nigeria Airways (collapsed in 2003 due to mismanagement, corruption, over-staffing and a debt burden of over USD60million) and Air Nigeria's precursor, Virgin Nigeria (Richard Branson pulled out because of alleged government interference and under-table dodgy dealings)?
"‘I want to assure you that effective two years from now; we will be depositing Air Nigeria into your hands. What does that mean? Air Nigeria will now have to go PLC. It will now be an airline owned by Nigerians. I will sell my shares, and then you can buy some. Air Nigeria will be in the market. So we will meet at Annual General Meetings, and then we will discuss. So that is our plans. By then, Air Nigeria will be fully Nigerian,’ Ibrahim said.
He disclosed that the Nigeria Stock Exchange had invited the company this year to come and be listed under the special registry so that Air Nigeria would be in the market.Read More Here [ThisDay Nigeria]
‘You will be a shareholder, I will be a shareholder. It will be our airline,’ he added."
Friday, May 18, 2012
As previously reported by The African Aviation Tribune, Air Nigeria this week started Lagos - London Gatwick using a leased Egyptair Airbus A330-200.
|Air Nigeria A330 at London Gatwick (Skylineraviation.de)|
Sunday, May 13, 2012
After having postponed the start of Lagos-Johannesburg by one month, Nigerian national carrier Air Nigeria (VK), today finally took delivery of two wet leased EgyptAir A330s from Cairo.
|Air Nigeria's A330-300 leaves for Lagos (Nigeria Aviation News)|
In other Air Nigeria related news, following in the footsteps of local competitor Arik Air, who in 2007 placed an order for 7 Boeing 787s, Air Nigeria has placed an order for 4 of the Dreamliners, to be used between Lagos-London, and ultimately, Lagos-Baltimore and Lagos-Dubai-Beijing, though this has yet to be confirmed by Boeing.
Nigerian press reports state that the deal, worth nearly USD$900million, is to be financed by the USEXIM bank.
"THISDAY checks revealed that each of the aircraft will cost the airline $221,775,000, totalling $887,100,000 which will be financed by the USEXIM Bank.
According to the chairman of Air Nigeria, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, who confirmed the aircraft orders, as initial deposit, the airline will be required to sign and pay four per cent of the total cost of the aircraft amounting to $35,484,000 by May 22 in London. On delivery, he said the aircraft will fly the Lagos-London, Lagos-Baltimore and Lagos-Dubai-Beijing routes, while one plane will be kept in reserve.
If everything goes according to plan, Air Nigeria will be the first West African airline to have the Dreamliner aircraft in its fleet. Ethiopian Airways has already placed orders for the Dreamliner aircraft, but delivery date is set for 2016."Read More Here [ThisDay Nigeria]
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Having been previously scheduled to start on May 17, Air Nigeria (VK) have announced the postponement of their Lagos - Johannesburg route to 17 June 2012.
Read More Here [Airline Route]Air Nigeria: Lagos - Johannesburg (from 17 June 2012)
- VK303 LOS2350 – 0650+1JNB 332 247
- VK302 JNB0935 – 1435LOS 332 135
Saturday, April 28, 2012
► NIGERIA: Air Nigeria to start London from May 16, Johannesburg from May 17; Rome & Paris to follow.
Air Nigeria (VK) has announced it will commence flights from Lagos Murtala Muhammad International to London Gatwick with effect from May 16 2012, whilst Johannesburg commences on May 17. The flights will initially be operated with an A330-200 on a 3x weekly basis, with Lagos-Gatwick increasing to daily from June 2012.
This comes 3 years after Air Nigeria's predecessor, Virgin Nigeria, ceased Lagos-London and Lagos-Johannesburg.
" At the inauguration of the international flight operations on May 16 and 17, Air Nigeria will operate three flights weekly to both London and Johannesburg, and by June 16, 2012, increase the frequency on the Lagos-London Gatwick route to daily flights.
The long-haul services will be operated with the recently acquired modern Airbus A330-200 aircraft in two class configuration of 24 Business seats and 244 Economy class seats. The aircraft is equipped with state-of-the-art iPADS for in-flight entertainment in the business class cabin, making Air Nigeria one of the first African airline to offer such a product to passengers.
Tickets have gone on sale across all the sales channels such as the Internet online portal – www.myairnigeria.com, by telephone, as well as at multiple ticket offices across Nigeria, and at travel agents. "
Thereafter, it is understood that Rome and Paris are the next destinations to be added to the international network, thus giving direct competition to Alitalia and Air France.
"Air Nigeria’s other planned European routes, Rome and Paris, also have existing capacity. Lagos-Rome Fiumicino is currently operated by Alitalia, which offers three times weekly service using A330-200 equipment while Lagos-Paris Charles de Gaulle is currently operated daily by Air France using 777-300ER equipment."