There is no fastest means of transport in Nigeria. I mean, in school we were taught that air transport was the fastest, but our teachers did not account for the hours (and sometimes days) of delay that airlines impose on passengers – who by the way, have already paid.
Arik Air was taken over by the government to prevent it from totally collapsing and the international airport in Abuja was closed for six weeks to fix the runway. So you know, Nigeria’s aviation sector is not faring well.
But despite this, a new (ambitious) airline has been launched in Nigeria, and JetWest aims to take its first flight in December. The airline is founded by Dikko Nwachukwu, a serial entrepreneur with a background in aviation. He sees an opportunity to serve the vast population of Nigeria that have been under-served by existing airlines.
In 2016, there were 15.2 million air passengers across all Nigerian airports and one could argue that while the passengers may be under-served, there is no evidence that there will be a significant increase in that number, even with a more efficient airline -because accessibility is not affordability.
But the JetWest founder disagrees:
“The guiding vision for JetWest is to make air travel accessible for more people. We are about democratizing the skies. We want to do for travel what cell phones did for telecoms. Fifteen years ago there were less than one million phone lines in Nigeria and now there are 100 million…We could have 100 million (air) travelers, and I know JetWest will be in the middle of the revolution.
I do an enormous amount of travel across the country and I know how important it is for me. If other people could, they would. West Africans travel more than anyone else for business, friends and family.”
The company is determined to project a young, attractive image to attract millennials and tech savvy fliers, just check their social media pages. JetWest also aims to combat high prices of air transport by offering pared down services at rock-bottom prices. Essentially, their services will be un-bundled so that customers can pick and choose what they want.
The company aims to launch in December this year with 100 employees and a fleet of three AC-20 jets flying local routes in Nigeria. Then quickly expand to 15 planes within three years, and 40 within five, carrying over 10 million passengers a year, and covering neighboring countries.
But while Nigeria’s population makes it attractive to low-cost operators, the difficulty of doing business here and our collapsing economy make business success very, very difficult. However, Dikko is aware of the scale of the challenge and he remains confident in his concept, his team, and his reading of the region. We hope it works!