21 February 2011

Nigeria: Air Nigeria Plans Fleet Upgrade

Air Nigeria has expressed plans to add one more aircraft to its fleet increasing it from the present 10 aircraft to 11 by March this year.

Managing director of the airline, Mr. Kinfe Kahssaye disclosed that the airline has already commenced negotiations to acquire its 11th aircraft and added that the fleet would increase to 15 before the end of the year.

He said that the airline was working with its technical partner, General Electrical Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), to increase its current fleet.

GECAS had on Monday paid a scheduled visit to the headquarters of Global Fleet in Lagos with the Chairman of the Group, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim and Kahssaye in attendance.

He explained that through the technical support of the company, the airline had been able to implement its turnaround as scheduled, stressing that very soon, it would return to its long haul operations, which it suspended recently.

Kahssaye, noted that GECAS had promised to ensure consistent growth of the airline not just in the country, but in the continent and added that since the business mogul, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim took over the running of the airline about nine months ago through the NICON Group, the operations of the airline had improved tremendously.

He stated that before the acquisition by Ibrahim, the fleet of the airline was four, but within nine months, it had increased to 10.

He said, "GECAS is one of our technical partners because as at this time, we are leasing four aircraft from them and the purpose of the visit was to see how the turnaround has been going since the acquisition of the airline about nine months ago.

"GECAS has been a key supporter of the airline. One, they helped us secured engines at a time and we also bought two aircraft from them at $6m each. So, we have that relationship and they have been supporting us in the turnaround process. The second part of the visit was to see opportunities for giving us more aircraft for the growth that we are implementing.

"Yes, we are planning and conducting a study on that (returning to international operations), but I won't give you a specific time when we will be doing that. But you can be rest assured that it will be very soon."

On the plans of the management for the airline, Kahssaye emphasised that Nigeria as the biggest country in the world, the management planned that it should have the biggest airline in the country that would gradually become a force to be reckoned with in the global aviation industry.

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