Monday, December 10, 2012

Air Nigeria

Air Nigeria (formerly Nigerian Eagle Airlines and Virgin Nigeria Airways), was the national flag carrier of Nigeria.[citation needed] The airline operated scheduled regional and domestic passenger services. Its base was Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos. The airline was a replacement for defunct Nigeria Airways. Its head office was in Lagos Island, Lagos State. Its registered office was in Ikoyi, Lagos State, while its head office was on the 9th floor of Etiebets Place in Ikeja, Lagos State. Air Nigeria ceased operations on September 10, 2012.

On 28 September 2004, the Nigerian government and Virgin Group signed an agreement to establish a new airline for Nigeria, to be called Virgin Nigeria Airways. Nigerian institutional investors owned 51% of the company and Virgin Atlantic Airways the remaining 49%. The airline's inaugural flight was on 28 June 2005 from Lagos to London Heathrow using an Airbus A340-300 aircraft. Virgin Nigeria quickly became one of Nigeria's largest airlines, carrying its 1,000,000th passenger and 4,000th ton of freight within two years of operation. The airline has also received accolades including THISDAY Awards 2006 Airline of the year and a nomination for 2006 African Airline of the year by ASATA (Association of South African Travel Agents). Virgin Nigeria had plans of making Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja its second base where in addition to its Lagos base Murtala Mohammed International Airport it would serve all countries in West Africa.

The Nigerian government set a deadline of 30 April 2007 for all airlines operating in the country to re-capitalise or be grounded, in an effort to ensure better services and safety. The airline satisfied the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)’s criteria in terms of re-capitalization and was re-registered for operation.
[edit] Sale of Virgin's stake and rebranding
A Virgin Nigeria Airbus A330-200 at London Gatwick Airport, England that was leased from bmi. (2007)

On 19 August 2008, Virgin Atlantic announced that it was "in talks to sell its 49 percent stake in Virgin Nigeria" and reviewing "whether it is appropriate that the Virgin brand should remain linked to Virgin Nigeria”.[8] This followed a dispute which arose after Virgin Nigeria's domestic operations were moved against its will by the Ministry of Transportation to Terminal 2. Virgin Nigeria had twice refused the directive to relocate its domestic operations from the international terminal citing the Memorandum of Mutual Understanding it signed with the previous (Olusegun Obasanjo) administration and pending appeal in a Lagos High court as reasons for not complying.
Logo used for Nigerian Eagle Airlines.

On 9 January 2009, Virgin Nigeria announced they would suspend all long haul flights to London Gatwick Airport and Johannesburg, effective 27 January 2009.

On 17 September 2009, Virgin Nigeria announced on their website they had rebranded as Nigerian Eagle Airlines. Nigerian Eagle Airlines also stated that they planned to focus on domestic and regional flights with further expansion into Europe and eventually the United States of America.[10] Virgin retained its 49% stake in the new Nigerian Eagle Airlines with the remaining 51% held by Nigerian investors.

On 2 June 2010, following the acquisition of a majority share in the airline, Jimoh Ibrahim, the new Chairman, announced that the airline had undergone a further name change to Air Nigeria Development Limited, branded as Air Nigeria. On June 13, 2012, the carrier was grounded by regulators for safety checks.

Air Nigeria ceased operations on September 10, 2012.

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