By Cyril NDEGEYA
From Nigerian independence in the 60s up to date, at least fifty airlines including the national carrier “Nigerian Airways” collapsed.
Stern safety issues are still hunting the country’s aviation industry, causing huge negative impact on the turbulent sector. As of late, in March this year, the sector witnessed the total closure of an airport in a big city of Abuja due to runway safety concerns.
Being the most populous country on the continent, Nigeria signed into bilateral air service agreement with about 78 countries. The country’s main gateway Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos accounts for over 60% of the total passengers and aircraft movements.
JetWest is a very new low-cost carrier that is joining the competition for the Nigerian market with a strategy to offer base airfares significantly lower than those charged by existing carriers, and comparable to road transport fares.
“There is a massive need in Nigeria to basically expand air travel and that is why we are obsessed to grow the market,” said Dikko Nwachukwu, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of JetWest during a recent interview with RwandanSpotter.
One of JetWest’s missions is to connect Africa with more frequencies to more cities in the next 5 years and making air travel more accessible for everyone
Mr Nwachukwu agrees with those who say that the LCC (low-cost carrier) model can’t work in Nigeria because of various reasons, but the airline managed to define its strategies for this market.
“We checked how this model works in Europe or in the US, we tropicalized it, we africanized it, and we nigeriarized it to work in our environment,” he added.
JetWest estimates the demand for lower airfare in West Africa & Central Africa equals a market of 10 million new passenger trips per year flying domestically within Nigeria and the West/Central African sub region.
The serial entrepreneur with a background in aviation humbly sees his airline as one of the carriers that will be changing the face of aviation in Africa in the next 10 years.
The airline is set to officially launch it operations in the early beginning of next year with two Airbus A320 , with only economy configuration because according to Mr Nwachukwu, the airline is for the people who just want to move around affordably and who need a reliable air travel within the huge country of Nigeria.
About 15.2 million passengers passed through Nigerian airports in 2016, according to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s (NCAA) statistics, being about eight per cent of the population.