As part of effort to further spread its market footprint within Nigeria’s domestic air route, Discovery Air, a new airline set to raise the bar of air travel in the country by re-enacting the model and standard of Virgin Nigeria, has formally commenced operations between Lagos-Port Harcourt and Uyo.
Also top on the airline’s consideration list are Lagos-Owerri and Lagos-Yola routes, with both expected to commence early next year when the airline would have taken delivery of two additional aircraft to strengthen its existing fleet.
Disclosing this to journalists at the departure hall of the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA2) just before the official commencement of the Lagos-Port Harcourt route over the weekend, an elated Mohammed Abdulsalami, managing director, Discovery Air, described the expansion as a realisation of the airline’s dream of extending its services to every nook and cranny of the country.
According to him, the airline will as part of its expansion strategy also extend its operations to some select West African countries such as Dakar, Duala and Libreville by Q1 2015.
“Our Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) is for domestic operations and the regulators will have to watch us for a certain period before certifying us to commence regional operation and once we get the approval we will commence regional operations,” Abdulsalami explained.
The managing director who also spoke on the sustainability of the airline considering the low fare charged on the existing route maintained that the country’s increasing population offers huge opportunity to the aviation sector.
“The World Bank recommends about 15 airline for Nigeria and we don’t have that number of local airlines just yet. So the market is not flooded yet,” he said, adding that if flights are affordable more people will be encouraged to fly.
Recounting the major hurdles still confronted by airlines, Abdulsalami maintained that the high cost of aviation fuel which gulps as much as 40 percent of operation cost still hunts the sector’s growth, pointing out that multiple taxation of airlines by government agencies is also another major challenge.