Virgin Nigeria Ends Long Haul Flying Today

For those of you who think that all Sir Richard Branson touches turns to gold, all you need to do is take a look at Virgin Nigeria to see a very different story. (Or study up on Virgin Express, but that’s for another time.)

The airline was started at a time when the Nigerian airline industry was in shambles, and there was plenty of oil money floating around. So, Sir Richard packed his bags and went down south to put together a new airline in his empire. Unfortunately for him, it has been far from easy sailing for the airline.

It seems that routes and aircraft types have floated in and out of the airline on a regular basis. It looked like their short haul strategy was finally settling down with the introduction of the Embraer jets, but their long haul flying was still a mess.

As of today, Virgin Nigeria has suspended all long haul flying, uh, temporarily, they say. That includes the routes to London and Johannesburg. Why did this happen? Well according to the airline, there’s too much new capacity and their tired product couldn’t compete. Why not just fix their product? Well, I’m guessing they don’t have the cash for it.

This means that the airline will return its two 767s to the lessor, but Virgin Nigeria apparently plans to be back in the market eventually, when they can get their act together.

How is it that Branson is willing to put up with this? Well, it appears that he has had less and less involvement in the airline. He has tried to sell his stake already, but nothing has come of it. The politics down in Nigeria must be frustrating him to no end.

For long haul passengers from Lagos, you can still fly Virgin Atlantic to London if you like the Virgin brand, or you can fly British Airways, Bellview, or Arik Air as well. South African appears to be the only airline that will fly you nonstop to Johannesburg.

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