Chairman of Air Nigeria, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim
By Festus Akanbi
Air Nigeria has embarked on a growth plan to emerge as one of a few African airlines to own the high capacity but cost efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, as the airline has ordered and will be paying for four of the airplanes to ply its international routes. The planes will be delivered by the third quarter of 2014.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-range, mid-size, wide-body, twin-engine jet airplane, with a seating capacity for over 200 passengers. According to its manufacturer, Boeing, it is the most fuel-efficient airplane in the world, and boasts lower maintenance and lower cash operating costs.
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.
Ibrahim added that in order to run and manage the aircraft in Nigeria, Air Nigeria will be investing in and deploying special equipment for engineering support for the navigation of the airplane.
When asked what Air Nigeria intends to do with the leased Airbus A330s which the airline took delivery of Sunday in Cairo, Egypt, he said they will be placed on other international routes.
Air Nigeria is scheduled to resume its international flight operations to London and Johannesburg on May 16 and 17, for which it had leased the two Airbus A330s. Both planes are expected to arrive Lagos Sunday from Cairo.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes and can seat 210 to 290 passengers, depending on the variant. The variant being ordered by Air Nigeria, the 787-8, seats 262 passengers consisting of 18 business-class seats and 244 economy-class seats.