Green Africa Airways, a new airline start‐up founded in Lagos, has been granted an air transport license by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. According to the founder and CEO of the Startup, Mr Afolabi Babawande.
“We are really thrilled about the approval of our license. This new development hopefully puts us further along in our journey to profitably build an enduring and credible Nigeria‐based airline.”
The new airline is seen as part of a gradual renewed interest in the untapped opportunity in the Nigerian commercial aviation market. The country’s population of over 170 million people and its strategic location on the western part of the continent offers a strong platform for a well thought out Pan African strategy. “As a nation with the largest economy on the African continent and a rising middle class that is beginning to value time more than ever before, Nigeria’s commercial aviation industry presents an attractive investment opportunity,” said Professor Mike Ogbeidi, a senior business strategy lecturer at the University of Lagos. He continued, “More broadly, a robust aviation sector will be crucial to realizing the economic potential of the African continent and connecting the region to the rest of the world.”
Despite the opportunities existing in the sector, notable airlines have faced difficult challenges in recent years with two of the most dominant airlines in Nigeria, Arik and Aero facing bailouts from the Asset Management Corporation. Airlines cite harsh operating conditions and a shrinking margins as competition and fees stifle the aviation industry. This situation has created concerns for investments in the industry with airline analysts worrying about its viability.
Nigeria currently has very few, if any, airlines that can stand the test when measured on international benchmarks. Lack of reliability, safety concerns and poor customer service (just to name a few) are some of the issues passengers are routinely forced to deal with when flying domestic airlines. Though there are unique systemic issues local airlines have to deal with, many observers contend that operators need to get their own houses in order.
Asked what will set Green Africa Airways apart, Mr. Afolabi, the founder and a former Morgan Stanley banker, responded, “…our customers and employees are going to be at the core of everything that we do. Our guiding philosophy, the scope of our business plan, the top‐notch quality of our team and the depth of our global relationships will differentiate us in the marketplace.”