A Glimpse at the Strange World of African Aviation

I was emailing with someone about aviation in Africa, and that prompted me to take a look at a few African airline websites. I know they do things differently over there, but there are some things that just make me shake my head.

ADC and Sosoliso, both Nigerian airlines, had terrible accidents a couple years back. The Nigerian government tried to take charge in the industry, and many airlines, including both ADC and Sosoliso, were forced to shut down last year. Though the airlines are gone, their websites continue to exist. In the case of Sosoliso, it appears to be so that they can still try to make a buck off of you.

When you head to Sosoliso’s website, it actually looks somewhat professional. Sosoliso Airplane from WebsiteOk, maybe the broken tail on the homepage isn’t exactly professional, and it’s probably not appropriate either since it’s right next to the press release stating, “Natural Disaster Cause of Sosoliso Crash.”

Yes, that’s right. It was heavy rain that caused the accident. What, no blame to place on the pilots for flying into it or on air traffic control for not directing them around it? I guess not. But then again, that’s African aviation. They don’t have nearly the same tools available that airlines in other parts of the world have, but still . . . .

And here’s where things get ridiculous. Click on the reservations tab and it actually takes you to a sleezy page with Google links on it. Yeah, the airline doesn’t fly but it’s apparently still trying to make money by getting people to click. Nice work, Sosoliso. Glad to see you’re not flying anymore.

On the other hand, we have ADC’s website. I’m not quite sure why it still exists, because it hasn’t changed in years. I can’t imagine it’s worth paying the domain registration fee. Really, all it has is the text of a press release from October 29, 2006. It says:

The Management and staff of ADC Airlines commiserate with families of those who lost their lives in the unfortunate air accident involving its B737 aircraft from Abuja to Sokoto.We pray that God in His infinite mercies will grant the families and indeed all Nigerians the grace to overcome the grief.

Signed

Management.

Then it says, right next to it, “In the meantime, all flights are suspended.”

Presumably as soon as God grants the families “the grace to overcome that grief,” then ADC will start flying again? The rest of the website is like a museum with the 2006 schedules and details of the Unicorn Club. I suppose this website is more sad than anything else.

7 Responses to A Glimpse at the Strange World of African Aviation

  1. DRG says:

    Thanks, but I’ll take Virgin Nigeria if I ever have to go there.

  2. ptahcha says:

    Oooh.. maybe Sosoliso offers the “saucer separation” class for star trek fans! Fancy.

  3. The Traveling Optimist says:

    I guess the larger question that DRG alluded to and I also wonder about is which are the reliable African carriers that can offer a full spread of flight options to choose from? What are your thoughts on Kenya Airways, Egyptair, Ethiopian, Air Seychelles, Air Mauritius and South African? Since the demise of Air Afrique there is nothing I’d bet my life on to West Africa short of British Airways, Lufthansa or Air France.

  4. Zach says:

    I wonder if the flight attendants on Sosoliso double as dethroned tribal kings with 8-figure fortunes they hope to deposit in your American bank account for safe keeping and at 10% monthly interest paid to the account holder.

  5. A weird (and probably irrelevant but kind of interesting) corollary to the image of the broken trail involves baby food. A European food company, trying to penetrate the African market some years ago, shipped down jars of baby food with images of smiling babies on the labels. The brand didn’t sell, because, the company eventually discovered, people thought the food was OF babies, not FOR babies.

    Claire @ http://travel-babel.blogspot.com

  6. JM says:

    Another ghost is the Lloyd Aereo Boliviano website: http://www.labairlines.com.bo

    While it contains beautiful images of that country on its initial page and promises future operations, so far that hasn’t come to pass (and they have been out of business, more or less since 2007, if you don’t count that LAB 727 which ran out of fuel on a charter earlier this year).

    Nice pictures, though.

  7. CF says:

    The Traveling Optimist – That’s a very good question. Personally, I try to stick to airlines that are members of one of the alliances since they generally have safety standards. I wouldn’t personally hesitate to fly South African, Kenya, Egyptair, or Ethiopian. I’m sure there are others that are good as well. Another good resource is the EU list of banned airlines. I wouldn’t fly anything on this list:
    http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air-ban/list_en.htm

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