Flying Coffin: How Air Nigeria Was Grounded

Air Nigeria
By SaharaReporters, New York

The recent suspension of air flight operations of Air Nigeria might not have happened but for the crash of Dana flight 992 in Lagos, according to documents obtained by SaharaReporters.

A letter written by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) dated June 22nd 2012 appeared to be a hasty attempt by the agency to prevent what could have been another air tragedy. The letter detailed what the agency had already been aware of regarding the sharp and unethical practices by the airline owned by Jimoh Ibrahim, a lawyer-turned shady businessman.

On June 4th 2012, SaharaReporters had published an expose arising from a petition written by Air Nigeria’s former Chief Financial Director, John Nnorom. In the petition, Mr. Nnorom asserted that the airliner was cutting corners on safety, maintenance and other issues. Our expose was followed by similar reports in the New York Times and Al Jazeera Television network.

However, these reports as well as strikes by the airline’s engineers did not stop the NCAA from certifying Air Nigeria, making it possible for the airline to resume operations until last week.

“The NCAA’s decision to allow Air Nigeria to resume operations amounted to toying with innocent passengers’ lives,” an insider within the airline told us. He added that the NCAA “knew all along about the corrupt practices of the airline operators.”

An NCAA letter with reference number NCAA/DAWS/AD.1065/Vol. II/046 shows that the NCAA had written two earlier letters to Air Nigeria on June 19th and 21st.

It also shows that the NCAA was aware of Air Nigeria’s financial troubles as of May 2012, several days before the Dana airliner crashed 7 nautical miles from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

The letter also shows that some of Air Nigeria’s planes had been grounded during maintenance due to the inability of the airline to pay its maintenance and lessor fees.

In fact, the NCAA letter shows that two principal lessors to Air Nigeria, GECAS and SHANNON Engine SUPPORT, were pushing to repossess their aircraft and engines from Air Nigeria.

Despite the NCAA’s extensive knowledge of the technical lapses and financial woes at Air Nigeria, the agency claimed that it was a text message from an insider at Air Nigeria that forced it hands on June 19th 2012 to take action against the airline. The text message, quoted verbatim in the NCAA’s letter, “We owe virtually all our outstation hotel bills, fuel money, handling charges, facility bill etc. We did not pay smoothly for fuel even at the hub here in LOS (Lagos). We never depart on time again due to finance of diff sort. They find it hard to pay night stop allowances. All our service providers are withdrawing their services bcos we are not paying. No tools to work with like ordinary printer/photocopier. No enuf papers to work with, systems are breaking down. We sent aircraft for checks, they can’t come back due (to lack of) fund. Others cannot go due (to lack of) fund. FIRS was said to pick our MD/CEO due (to) tax unremitted. No salary of last month even on 19th of another month. Pls help if you can.”

The NCAA letter claimed it discovered that out of Air Nigeria’s 11 aircraft only two were functional. The airline’s fleet includes two Boeing 737s with registration number 5N-VNF and 5N-VNM. While 5N-VNF was inherited by Air Nigeria from Virgin Nigeria, 5N-VNM was leased by Air Nigeria from International Lease Finance Corp., a US aircraft leasing company.

Air Nigeria’s air-fleet also includes four B737-300 with registration number 5N-VNC, 5N-VND, 5N-VNE, 5N-VNJ – manufactured between 1997 and 1999 and leased from Dubai-based GE Capital Aviation Services. Two Boeing 737-300 models with registration number 5N-VNK and 5N-VNL were manufactured in 1997 and are leased from US-based AerSale Corporation.

Air Nigeria wholly owns two Embraer E-190s jets as well as two Boeing 737s.

The NCAA’s letter reveals that seven out of the airline’s 11 jets had been grounded for various reasons.

1. Boeing 737 with registration number 5N-VND- AOG Los due for C-check and the Nigerian Airforce hanger for engines swap with 5N-VNJ.

2. Boeing 737 with registration number 5N-VND- AOG Los due to 5N-coded ELT, and in NAF hanger for engines swap with 5N-VND

3. Boeing 737 with registration number 5N-VNL-AOG Los since April 19 2012 for C-check, but cannot go for the check as a result of non-availability of a replacement engine for #2 engine that failed boroscope inspection. Also, required 5N-coded ELT

4. Boeing 737-VNE – In Romania since September 19 2011 for C-check, but engine cannot be provided since the completion of check last year.

5. 5N-VNC – In France for C-check. The MRO is understood to be waiting for 5N-VND which will serve as collateral for the release of 5N-VNC, due to nonpayment by Air Nigeria.

6. 5N-VNG-AOG for C-check since January 8 2012 but only got to Egypt Air in April 2012 and is still in Egypt.

7. 5N-VNK-AOG Los due to the absence of 5N-coded ELT: Nig. (4) refers.

8. Embraer E-190 5N-VNI – In Portugal for Basic 21 check and being delayed due to lack of payments.

9. Embraer E-190 5N-VNH – AOG Los due to failed #2 engine bearing seal, and damaged forward cargo compartment lining.

In its letter, the NCAA reveals that the agency was aware of Air Nigeria’s indebtedness to different service providers during its May 2012 financial analysis of the airline. The indebtedness is to the tune of N2 billion ($13 million). In addition, the airline owes debts separate debts of $266,116.49 to undisclosed creditors. The NCAA concluded that the debt-profile meant that Air Nigeria was in no position to meet its financial obligations.

However, several aviation sources confirmed to SaharaReporters that the NCAA had known for a long time about Air Nigeria’s unethical and criminal behavior. Those claims are backed up by the agency’s admission about its officials’ terrible experiences during a June 10th 2012 trip to Egypt for the delivery and demonstration flight of a second Airbus 330 long haul aircraft. The NCAA inspectors’ trip came to naught as Egypt Air authorities practically chased them out of Cairo because Air Nigeria had failed to honor its obligations in the lease agreement.

Curiously, NCAA officials continue to allow Air Nigeria to operate international flights between Lagos and London on an airplane Airbus 330 wet leased from the same Egypt Air authorities that chased NCAA inspectors out of Cairo, Egypt on June 10.

The NCAA’s letter, signed by an engineer, O.E. Tasiebi, who apparently supervises Air Nigeria at the NCAA, opened the door for Air Nigeria to resume operations. This despite the fact that the agency noted in its last paragraph that GE Capital Aviation Services and SHANNON Engine Support were working to repossess four jets from Air Nigeria.

The Nigerian Senate last week discovered that Air Nigeria’s owner, Mr. Ibrahim, diverted N35.5 of the aviation intervention fund allocated to Air Nigeria.

Wire instructions obtained by SaharaReporters reveal that on September 20 2010, Air Nigeria transferred a total amount of $26,969, 505million from a UBA account 00930131003376 into a United Bank of Africa US dollar domiciliary account number 00111-534-803213 in Accra, Ghana. The account belonged to Energy Bank of Ghana.

The wire transfer claimed that the transfer was for “investment”. Energy Bank of Ghana was founded in 2011; a former finance director of the airline alleges that the aviation intervention fund granted Air Nigeria by the federal government of Nigeria was fraudulent diverted by Mr. Ibrahim to set up Energy bank in Ghana

19 comment(s)
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Nigeria what/s wrong you, anything you touch?

Nigeria what's wrong with you,anything you touch has dire repercussions, yet you have plenty of crude oil money (you don't have a refinary) yet there countries in africa without oil wells but with refinaries. Where did you go soo wrong, is my question to God. Greed!





For me,i just need a job with an airline. Any big man here to help me out? Or even woman? In case any good samarittan can help,my contact is +233243686922. Im a Ghanaian living in Ghana,i dont mind rellocating to another country to work. Thanks ..... Wendy

Thanks for hitting the nails

Thanks for hitting the nails on the head concerning the malaise in Nigerian society!!!

Save yourself from mental slavery!

Financial education is not a luxury!

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Air Nigeria

How true is this,that former Bellview Airline(lisa 2005) is now what is called Air Nigeria

Jimoh Ibrahim OFR

If I am not mistaken, this character by name Jimof Ibrahim has a national honours of OFR. How did such a certified crook make it to the honours list?

For me o, I am where Prof Chinua Achebe is in these matters. I will NEVER accept any national honours from Nigerian government that puts me in the same league with crooks and thieves.

The name should be changed

The name should be changed from Air Nigeria to Air Jimoh Ibrahim

@Jude Iwunze

You failed to understand what cappagh brigade wrote. Next time try to comprehend before reacting. You seem to have so much anger in you. My brother, please be careful so you don't have heart attack.

outsource to foreign consultants

The best option for a better practice.......innocent lives are at stake please

Sahara reporters forward this

Sahara reporters forward this materials to ICAO I trust they will go beyond ncaa and help in sanitizing aviation in nigeria. Enough of this sharp practices in that sector if air nigeria can be doing God knows what other lesser and single aircraft airlines are up to. For me I will remain steadfastly flying British airways. It is now any other airline apart from nigerian owned or runned airlines. SHAME

Engine swap I can recollect

Engine swap I can recollect vividly thats lead to the crash of EAS Bac 1-11 aircraft in Kano. Replacing a faulty engine with a good one from another aircraft is planning for accident to happen.
Someone should report all this to ICAO and let them decertify the whole airspace of nigeria to save lifes


Dear Mr Iwunze,

Why the venom? If you can prevent yourself from losing control of your impulses & senses, you might  see my point.

No one celebrates death or pogrom, as you call it, and in my post, all I said was that the masses are killing each other in the name of tribe or religion whilst their leaders are stealing with each other despite being of different religions and tribe.

Your diatribe and rant is an example of the Nigeria and nigerian-I think you deserve a small letter n- I pray stops existing but unlike you, I am fortunate to have affiliations with all  tribes in Nigeria by birth, marriage or otherwise and for that, I can't insult you or your tribe for I would be insulting me but I can honestly inform you, that you are too enmeshed in bitterness & hatred for other tribes, to be objective.

I do hope you reflect on your short comings and try to change if possible.

Have a nice day.

Cappagh Brigade.

True, NCAA is aware of the

True, NCAA is aware of the financial challenges and financial crimes of Air Nigeria Management, and did nothing until recent events (NAAPE strikes, Dana crash, Probe Panel, etc) forced them to suspend the operations of the airline.

What is not true in your write-up is the claims of cutting corners on safety and maintenance, or do you have any proof?The aircraft on heavy maintenance checks are not delayed because of funds. Again, it is inappropriate to equate lease issues with maintenance.

Do get a copy of the airline's response to the NCAA letter, and you will be surprised that NCAA is only trying to save face and in so doing they expose their shameless ignorance and incompetence, and open themselves to more ridicule.

My hope is that given the current situation of things at the airline, govt will step in, pay Jimoh Ibrahim off (that is if there's anything to pay him off for) and then get competent buyer/management for the airline.

Is this not the same guy that bought a Hotel in Dubai?

If Iam not mistaking , there was a report in Naija pals in June last year that a Nigerian bought a hotel worth of $500m. in Dubai, and Jimoh Ibrahim`s name was mentioned as the acquirer of such luxurious Hotel.That not withstanding, neither the upper chamber nor the lower chamber worth their names, perhaps another Jimohgate in the making. Just heading for a fall, oh my Naija.

Cappgh Brigade: A Boko Haram Imbecile

Stupid remark. So because Jimoh Ibrahim is corrupt and Ekwerremadu steals with Sambo, then innocent peasants attending churches on Sunday must be blown up? What sort of stupid reasoning is that? Oh well, the samne imbecility that led you people to launch pogroms against innocent Ibo women and children because some soldiers did a coup in 1966.
The little girl with her Christmas dress you murdered at church on Christmas Day, did she steal your money? You are such a useless fool and no rational person will share a country with an animal like you.

Outsource NCAA

This goes without saying.....There is no point wasting time, just outsource the NCAA trash to competent foreign consultants, otherwise they will do it again.This has been their practice from time immemorial. There is only option coming out of all these revelations .... Outsource NCAA to competent foreign hands, c'est fini.


Despite proof upon proof of the extrent of corruption by Nigerian politician, the status quo remains i.e The President, Governors, Ministers, Senators and the House members continue to steal and cause confusion with boko haram etc.

The aetiology of boko haram as well as the general malaise in Nigeria especially Northern Nigeria is plain & simple "CORRUPTION" but yet the whole country, daft and smart, is being brainwashed to see our problem as tribal and religous so that Obi continues to fight Jimoh and Musa whilst Ekweremadu continues to steal with Sambo, Jonathan & Ayagun.

The divide & rule tactics has become part & parcel of our leaders hence whilst the common tribal person kills the other tribe, their leaders are wining & Dining with each other.

Please click on the following web page, to see the root of boko haram.

9ja destroyed by d yorubas, ibos and fulanis-let us split her

Britain’s landmark Big Ben clock tower adjoining the Houses of Parliament will be renamed “Elizabeth Tower” to mark Queen Elizabeth’s 60th year on the throne, a parliamentary official said on Tuesday.The announcement follows four days of celebrations earlier this month to mark the 86-year-old queen’s Diamond Jubilee, only the second to be celebrated by a British monarch.”The House of Commons (parliament) commission welcomed the proposal to rename the clock tower Elizabeth Tower in recognition of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and will arrange for this decision to be implemented in an appropriate manner in due course,” a House of Commons spokesman said.