Although relatively new Nigerian carrier Med-View Airlines will face strong competition from established carriers Arik Air, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways as it expands into the long-haul arena with flights between Lagos and London, it believes there is sufficient point-to-point demand to support the introduction of another daily service.
The airline confirms it has the green light to launch flights between Nigeria and the United Kingdom and has secured slots at London Gatwick to introduce four times weekly flights from Lagos from later this month. It is understood the flights will be operated by EuroAtlantic Airlines using a two-class Boeing 767-300ER, which was introduced into the Med-View fleet in the third quarter, and are scheduled to commence from November 20, 2015.
The airline intends to break into the London market with a low-fare option for passengers between Nigeria and the UK and is advertising return flights on its website from 149,000 Naira (approximately £485), with complimentary onward travel in Nigeria via its local network.
“We will make our air tickets to London cheaper without compromising the safety of our passengers who are flying the route,” said Alhaji Muneer Bankole, Managing Director, Med-View Airlines when he first announced the carrier’s intent to serve the London market earlier this year.
The UK-Nigeria market is currently served on a daily basis by Arik Air, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways. All three airlines offer flights between London and Lagos, while British Airways also offers a daily link between London and Abuja. All four daily flights operate from/to London Heathrow with the last regular schedule to Nigeria from London Gatwick being operated by Virgin Nigeria (Lagos) from November 2005 until January 2009.
There is an O&D demand of an estimated 2,500 passengers a day between the UK and Nigeria before you even start looking at connection options, and this has grown at an average annual rate of 9.2 per cent since 2010 with growth of 8.4 per cent being recorded in 2014. The existing connections to Lagos mean it has the largest flows (660,000 passengers in 2014) but there is also sizeable demand to Abuja (206,000 passengers in 2014) and Port Harcourt (34,000 passengers in 2014).
Although initially formed in 2007 as a charter provider, Med-View, which describes itself as ‘The Airline of Nigeria’, first entered the scheduled market in November 2012 with domestic flights within the country. Alongside multiple daily flights on the busy Lagos – Abuja route it also currently serves the Nigerian cities of Enugu, Port Harcourt and Yola.
Over the past three years it has grown its fleet from two to five aircraft and plans to add further units in 2016 as it grows its international network to other points. Alongside an existing link to Accra, Ghana, the airline is also understood to be interested in serving a number of longer-distance routes including Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Lisbon, Portugal.
Earlier this year Med-View was awarded traffic rights to serve a range of African markets from Lagos including Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Bamako, Mali; Conakry, Guinea; Douala, Cameroon; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Monrovia, Liberia.