Anchored by senior industry leaders, Lagos-based Green Africa Airways is set for a major take off after partnering with aeroplane manufacturer, Boeing. The partnership involves a commitment for up to a hundred (100) 737 MAX 8 aircraft, evenly split into 50 firm aircraft and 50 options.

The agreement comes as the airline gears up to begin commercial operations, having received its Air Transport License from the Nigerian government. The deal carries a list price of $11.7 billion, the largest aircraft agreement from Africa, which will be reflected on Boeing’s Orders and Deliveries website once finalized.

“It is a historic time for the Nigerian and African aviation industry,” Founder and CEO, Green Africa Airways, Babawande Afolabi remarked.

“This landmark deal takes us much closer to our long-held dream of building a world-class airline that will unlock a new realm of positive possibilities for millions of customers. Broadly speaking, this deal is a bold symbol of the dynamism, resilience and soaring entrepreneurial drive of the next generation of Nigerians and Africans.”

Changing the narrative

The aviation industry in Nigeria is beset with many challenges, particularly the depleting fleet size among commercial airlines. However, Green Africa Airways is positioning itself to change this narrative. The airline will not only be the largest carrier in Nigeria, West and Central Africa in terms of fleet size, it will also surpass all existing domestic carriers in the country after receiving the order.

According to reports, domestic carriers such as Med-View Airline, Dana Air, Azman Air, Overland, Arik Air and Aero Contractors, do not have up to 50 aircrafts, including Air Peace, which is the largest with about 30 aircrafts to its name.

“Nigeria is uniquely positioned to be the home of the next major value airline. The strategic partnership with Boeing positions Green Africa Airways to expand and improve air travel for customers in Nigeria, and further strengthens the relationship between the United States, Nigeria and Africa,” said Virasb Vahidi, Senior Advisory Board Member at Green Africa Airways.

The best of the best

Prior to the announcement of this deal, the airline announced the appointment of Caribbean Airlines VP (Operations), Jag Singh, as Chief Operations Officer (COO), and a former JetBlue Airways VP (Flight Operations), Bart Roberts, as the safety review board chairman.

Announcing the appointments, Green Africa described Singh as “a senior industry leader with over 35 years of experience.” As well as serving as Caribbean Airlines VP (Operations), Singh twice held the role of Caribbean Airlines acting CEO from 2013 to 2014 and from 2016 to 2017.

Roberts, who was named as Green Africa Airways safety review board chairman, also has more than 30 years aviation experience, including management roles at New York-based JetBlue Airways, Dallas/Fort Worth-based American Airlines as chief pilot and with the U.S. Navy.

VivaColombia founder and former CEO, William Shaw, is also on Green Africa’s board, and former American Airlines CCO, Virasb Vahidi, is working on the project as a senior executive advisor. Folu Oladipo, who was a technical pilot with Nigeria’s largest carrier, Arik Airlines, and ASKY Airlines’ Boeing 737 captain, is Green Africa’s chief pilot, among a host of other talented industry experts at the helm of the new carrier.

Boeing’s 20-year Commercial Market Outlook reveals that airlines in Africa will require 1,190 new aeroplanes over the next couple of decades as the continent boosts both intra-continental and intercontinental connectivity. Thus, with a massive fleet and a team of aviation professionals to run the airline, Green Africa Airways is truly on its course to dominate the continent’s aerospace and tap into the extraordinary growth potential for air travel in Africa. 

“We are delighted that Green Africa Airways has selected the 737 MAX to serve this expanding market,” said Ihssane Mounir, Senior Vice President of Commercial Sales & Marketing, The Boeing Company.” We look forward to Green Africa Airways building their fleet with the MAX and taking advantage of the jet’s efficiency and dependability to open new options across Nigeria and the African continent.”

The Boeing Company is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells aeroplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, and missiles worldwide. In March 2017, the American manufacturer opened two new offices in Johannesburg and Nairobi. 

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