Home Aviation REMINISCENCES…… And they killed the Nigeria Airways… By: Eric Teniola

REMINISCENCES…… And they killed the Nigeria Airways… By: Eric Teniola


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On May 1, 1959, the Nigeria Airways Limited was inaugurated during the tenure of Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola as Minister of Aviation giving Nigeria its fledging national airline. Chief Raymond Amanze. A. Njoku succeeded Chief Ladoke Akintola as the first supervisory minister to midwife the new airline. The first board appointed by the government provided policy guidelines for the new Nigeria Airways was headed by Chief T.T. Solaru, while the first general manager of the airline was an expatriate, Captain L.V. Messenger. Although the basic objectives of the new airline were to carry on the business of air transportation, it was established to: serve as national flag carrier and promote the image of Nigeria, and provide a back-up service for security and defence during the periods of national emergency. At the time the airline was firmed, there were 28 airports being maintained by the Ministry of Transport and Aviation. Two of the airports, Lagos and Kano, were designated as international airports while 12 others, including Port Harcourt, Calabar, Tiko (Southern Cameroon), Ibadan, Benin, Enugu, Makurdi, Jos, Yola, Maiduguri, Kaduna, Zaria, Gusau and Sokoto, were opened up for domestic scheduled flight services. By April of 1977, Nigeria Airways was operating a total of 202 flights every week between Lagos, Accra, Abidjan, Robertsfield, Freetown, Banjul and Dakar in West Africa; Lagos, Kano, Rome and London on the Europe route and Lagos, Abidjan, Robertsfield and New York on the American route inclusive of all domestic airports. In October 1977, for instance, the airline inaugurated a commercial flight to Kenya connecting Libreville (Gabon) and Kinshasa (Congo). The following year, May 5 and August 10, 1978, precisely, the airline inaugurated flight services from Lagos to New York via Accra and Robertsfield and from Lagos through Kano to Karachi via Jeddah in Saudi Arabia respectively. At the end of 1978, the airline had made 27,518 flight departures, carrying on its entire network, a total of 1,444,436 passengers that represents a passenger load factor of over 73 per cent, the highest traffic for the airline since 1959. The airline’s fleet at this period was made of eight (8)F.27, seven (7) F.28, two (2) B.727, three (3) B.737, two (2) B.707 and two (2) DC10. In 1982, the airline carried a total of 2,138,378 passengers on its entire network with the domestic services taking the lion share of 1,713,455 passengers. It had a reasonably good share of the…

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