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Nigerian Eagle Airlines
NEA Logo.png
Founded 2004 (as Virgin Nigeria)
Commenced operations 28 June 2005
Bases Murtala Muhammed International Airport
Frequent flyer program Eagleflier
Fleet size 7 (+8 orders)
Destinations 14
Parent company Virgin Atlantic Airways (49%)
Headquarters Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria
Key people Captain Dapo Olumide (CEO)

Nigerian Eagle Airlines (formerly Virgin Nigeria Airways), is the national flag carrier of Nigeria. The airline operates scheduled regional and domestic passenger services. Its base is Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos. The airline is a replacement for defunct Nigeria Airways. Its registered office is in Ikoyi, Lagos State, while its head office is on the 9th floor of Etiebets Place in Ikeja, Lagos State.[1] The carrier's loyalty programme is named 'Eagleflier'.



Virgin Nigeria's logo.

On 28 September 2004, the Nigerian government and Virgin Atlantic Airways signed an agreement to establish a new airline for Nigeria, to be called Virgin Nigeria Airways. Nigerian institutional investors own 51% of the company and Virgin Atlantic Airways owns 49%. The airline's inaugural flight was on 28 June 2005 from Lagos to London Heathrow using an Airbus A340-300 aircraft. Virgin Nigeria has since gone on to become one of Nigeria's largest airlines carrying its 1,000,000th passenger and 4,000th ton of freight within two years of operation. The airline has also received accolades including THISDAY Awards 2006 Airline of the year[2] and a nomination for 2006 African Airline of the year by ASATA (Association of South African Travel Agents).[3] Virgin Nigeria had plans of making Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja its second base where in addition to its Lagos base Murtala Mohammed International Airport it will serve all countries in West Africa.[4]

The Nigerian government set a deadline of 30 April 2007 for all airlines operating in the country to re-capitalise or be grounded, in an effort to ensure better services and safety. The airline satisfied the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)’s criteria in terms of re-capitalization and was re-registered for operation.[5]


Sale of Virgin's stake and rebranding

A Virgin Nigeria Airbus A330-200 at London Gatwick Airport, England that was leased from bmi. (2007)

On 19 August 2008, Virgin Atlantic announced that it was "in talks to sell its 49 percent stake in Virgin Nigeria". It is also reviewing "whether it is appropriate that the Virgin brand should remain linked to Virgin Nigeria”.[6] The dispute arose after Virgin Nigeria's domestic operations were moved against its will by the Ministry of Transportation to Terminal 2. Virgin Nigeria had twice refused the directive to relocate its domestic operations from the international terminal citing the Memorandum of Mutual Understanding it signed with the previous (Olusegun Obasanjo) administration and pending appeal in a Lagos High court as reasons for not complying.

On 9 January 2009, Virgin Nigeria announced they would suspend all long haul flights to London Gatwick Airport and Johannesburg, effective 27 January 2009.[7] Flights have now finished.

On 17 September 2009, Virgin Nigeria announced on their website they had rebranded as Nigerian Eagle Airlines. Nigerian Eagle Airlines also stated that they plan to focus on domestic and regional flights with further expansion into Europe and eventually the United States of America.[8] Virgin still own 49% of the new Nigerian Eagle Airlines with the remaining 51% by Nigerian investors. A picture of the first aircraft, a Boeing 737-300 in the new livery was uploaded to at Shannon Airport, Ireland.[9]


Codeshare agreements



The Nigerian Eagle Airlines fleet consists of the following aircraft (at 17 November 2009):[12]

Nigerian Eagle Airlines Fleet
Aircraft In Fleet Orders Options Passengers
Routes Notes
Boeing 737-300 5 0 0 116 (16/100) Short-Medium haul
Embraer E-170LR 0 7 0 76 (6/70) Short haul
Domestic services
Deliveries: 2009-2011
Embraer E-190 2 1 6 96 (12/84) Short haul
Regional services
Deliveries: 2008-2011
Total 7 8 6 Last updated: 17 November 2009

Past Fleet

A Virgin Nigeria Airbus A320-211 departs Brussels Airport, Belgium. The aircraft was leased from BH Air. (2005)

Before rebranding, Virgin Nigeria had also operated the following aircraft:[13]

Virgin Nigeria Airways Past Fleet
Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A320-211 2 2005 2007 Leased from BH Air
Airbus A330-200 1 2007 2007 Leased from bmi
Airbus A340-300 2 2005 2006 Leased from Virgin Atlantic Airways
ATR 42-500 1 2008 2009 Leased from Interstate Airlines
Boeing 737-300 2 2005 2007 Leased from GECAS
Boeing 767-300ER 2 2007 2009 Leased from SmartLynx Airlines
Fokker 50 2 2007 2008 Leased from Denim Air

Incidents and accidents

Virgin Nigeria only suffered one incident with no hull-loss or loss of life.

  • On 17 August 2009, Virgin Nigeria Flight 812, an Embraer E-190, flying from Accra, Ghana to Abuja, Nigeria with 50 passengers, declared an emergency when passengers smelled smoke in the cabin 30 minutes into the flight. Shortly after the pilots were informed, thick smoke appeared inside the cabin, causing oxygen masks to be deployed. The plane made an emergency descent. 10 minutes after the descent had begun, the plane leveled off and passengers were told everything was under control. The plane landed safely at Abuja with no reported injuries. The cause of the smoke was the failure of one of the air conditioning systems, which in turn caused a second one to fail.[14]


External links


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