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  Nigeria’s aviation industry has had its share of ups and downs. From the launching of new players and the purchase of new aeroplanes to the failure of domestic passenger carriers, its colourful history has played out over decades. But it’s alive, relevant today as it’s always been.
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This article profiles some of the better-known names in the industry. Some are relative newbies. Others have lasted fairly longer. All of them are in the good books of many Nigerians. Here’s our ranking of Nigeria’s top domestic airlines, presented in no particular order.

Air Peace

Air Peace to commence Abuja-Gombe flights soon | The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News — Nigeria — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
The Guardian NG
Founded in 2013 by businessman Allen Onyema, Air Peace has become the preferred airline for many travellers within the country. It provides both passenger and chartered services. Air Peace is headquartered in Lagos and flies to the major cities of Nigeria, parts of West Africa, and South Africa.

Arik Air

Aviation union expresses misgivings about the proposed conversion of Arik Air to new airline
Vanguard NG
Arik describes itself as ‘West Africa’s Leading Airline.’ The airline began flying after it took over the facilities of the defunct Nigeria Airways in 2006. It runs flights out of the Lagos and Abuja airports, to cities such as Jos, Owerri, Kano, Yola, and Ibadan. Previously, it flew to destinations such as Dubai and New York.

Azman Air

Azman Airline; History, Location & Flight Bookings
Hint Naija
Set up in 2010 by businessman Abdulmunaf Sarina, Azman operates out of the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano. Since its first flight in 2014 (to the Abuja International Airport), it has flown several routes within Nigeria, including Abuja, Benin, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Owerri, and Port Harcourt. Azman once had plans to fly to the Middle East, but it has since chosen to focus on domestic routes.

Ibom Air

Ibom Air Targets Post-Crisis Boom In Nigeria's Aviation Market
Ibom Air is a domestic airline owned by the Akwa Ibom State Government, the first to be under state government ownership in Nigeria. Founded in 2019, the airline has a fleet of five Bombardier planes. From its base at the Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo, it flies to Lagos, Abuja, Calabar, and Enugu.

Max Air

Max Air launches new Boeing 737-300 series for domestic routes | The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News — Business — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
The Guardian NG
Max Air was established in 2008. It began operations with aircraft designated for Muslim pilgrimages and expanded in 2018 to include domestic routes. These routes include Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt. Its international travels are to Mecca and Medinah, both in Saudi Arabia.

Overland Airways

Overland Airways Booking and Flight Specials | Cheap Nigeria Flights
Cheap Nigeria Flights
Based in Lagos, Overland Airways began flying in 2002. It is headquartered at the Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and has a hub at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. Overland Airways flies to several cities within Nigeria, including Abuja, Asaba, Ibadan, Bauchi, Dutse, and Ilorin.

Aero Contractors

Aero Contractors Expands OperationsTHISDAYLIVE
This Day Live
Aero Contractors is one of Nigeria’s oldest surviving airlines. It was founded in 1959 and registered in 1960. Initially owned by an airline based in the Netherlands, it passed into Nigerian administration over time and was eventually taken over by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), which holds 60% of the company. Aero flies to several destinations within Nigeria, including Abuja, Calabar, Enugu, Port Harcourt, and Lagos.

United Nigeria Airlines

NCAA licenses United Nigeria Airlines to begin flight operations
The Cable NG
United Nigeria Airlines was launched by businessman Obiorah Okonkwo in 2020, and currently has a fleet of four aircraft. Its operating base is the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, and it flies to Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Asaba, and Owerri.

Dornier Aviation Nigeria

File:Dornier Aviation Nigeria Dornier 328 Makinde-1.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Dornier has a long history of operating in Nigeria. The airline was set up in 1979 and functioned as a commercial airline until recently. Information on its site suggests it now runs a chartered service, which may be provided upon request. It is part of a broader company that provides flight operations services.

Dana Air

Dana Air supports Nigerian Economic Summit, provides complimentary tickets | The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News — Saturday Magazine — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
The Guardian NG
Dana Air, a Nigerian airline headquartered in Ikeja and operationally based out of the Murtala Muhammed International Airpot, Lagos, is private-sector owned. Founded on the 10th of November 2008 and with the Boeing McDonnell 83 and Boeing B737-300 aeroplanes, Dana Air runs domestically on the Lagos – Abuja route; Lagos – Port Harcourt route; Lagos – Uyo route; Port Harcourt – Abuja route; and Uyo – Abuja route. In addition to these, Dana Air offers Executive Charter Services using a brand new Bombardier Learjet 45XR.

Final Words

Nigeria’s aviation space is constantly evolving. We can expect new companies to break in and shake things up in the near future. We watch expectantly. Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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This article was first published on 16th June 2021


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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