Aero is a Nigerian carrier founded in 1959 and based at Murtala Muhammad International Airport in Lagos. Aero operates both charter and scheduled domestic and international services supporting Nigeria’s oil and gas industries. The carrier utilises a narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Bombardier aircraft serving 12 destinations in West Africa.
Location of Aero main hub (Lagos Murtala Muhammed Airport)
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Nigeria-based Arik Air enters 2013 with some prospect for growth having reportedly secured a USD2 billion credit facility to fund the acquisition of additional aircraft. The carrier has also held preliminary talks with Ivory Coast national carrier Air Cote d’Ivoire to provide that nation’s domestic network.
But despite repeated announcement of new long-haul routes, the previously aggressive Arik founded in 2006 after taking over the assets of bankrupt national airline Nigeria Airways has achieved little growth in recent years. Arik harboured pretentions of becoming Western Africa’s leading airline and candidate for membership of one of the main marketing alliances but has been weighed down by debt, the lack of a clear business plan and a meddlesome government.
The carrier has capitalised on the demise of a major privately-owned competitor in Air Nigeria as well as grounding of Dana Airways following a crash, which effectively reduced the domestic market to a duopoly with Aero.
Nigeria's government talks of rebuilding a failing airline industry in 2013. But the path is unclear
Nigerian aviation industry is at its lowest ebb in 20 years following a year that saw a crash kill 163 people, the collapse of a major airline and a domestic financing ban on the country’s two remaining largest carriers, one of which was also temporarily grounded by industrial action allegedly over outstanding debts.
Faced with a market that has been reduced to an effective duopoly between Arik Air and Aero, along with the associated very high air fares and often systemic corruption, the Nigerian Government is talking of pulling out the stops in 2013 to encourage more investment in the scheduled aviation sector – including fast tracking registration of four new unidentified airlines and the establishment of a new national carrier.
Both these initiatives were to have been fulfilled by the end of 2012, but have failed to meet the deadline.
Air Nigeria is resuming its long-haul network after services were cut during a period of restructuring, ownership transfer and re-branding three years ago. The privately held flag carrier, formerly known as Virgin Nigeria and briefly as Nigeria Eagle Airlines, will resume long-haul services in May-2012 to London Gatwick and Johannesburg with plans in the short-term to launch Rome and Paris services.
The Lagos-based carrier has had a false start, expecting last year to resume long-haul flights in Sep-2011, but plans this time are more concrete, with Air Nigeria loading schedules and fares. Its planned services will see notable competition, but like many routes in and out of Africa, are typically high-yielding. Air Nigeria’s forthcoming Lagos-London route is the latest in West Africa-Europe expansion, following notable capacity increases from Brussels Airlines.
Air Nigeria is resuming long-haul operations after a nearly three-year hiatus, with A340-300 flights to London Gatwick commencing in Sep-2011. The carrier is also aiming to use its newly acquired A340-300 fleet to resume flights to Johannesburg and launch Washington Dulles with the latter designed to supplement its new codeshare service via Delta Air Lines to Atlanta and New York.
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