Taking the Virgin Out of Nigeria

Uh oh. It looks like Richard Branson’s foray into the African airline market is coming to an end. Virgin Nigeria will no longer be using the Virgin name, and Branson’s affiliation with the airline will be ending. Now, other No More Virgin Nigeriathan chaste Nigerians, the only virgins in the country will be a daily Virgin Atlantic Airbus from London.

The end of this relationship just shows how hard it can be to do business in Africa. Virgin Group’s relationship with Nigeria swayed with the changing winds of power. Under one regime, all was good yet under the next it became a nightmare. And the airline itself has been far from a beacon of stability.

In its short life, Virgin Nigeria has flown only 18 airplanes. So you might be surprised to know that those 18 airplanes have been split between A320s, A330s, A340s, ATR 42s, 737s, 767s, Embraer 190s, and Fokker 50s. Originally, they planned on serving domestic, regional, and long haul routes. But now, they’ve given up on long haul entirely and they’ve decided to center their fleet around the Embraers for regional routes. We’ll see if they even stick to this fleet long enough to take delivery of all of them.

It’s not really a surprise that Branson would be frustrated. What was once a promising partnership will now be dissolved, as soon as Virgin can sell its stake. Meanwhile, the airline will continue to operate but under a new Virgin-free name.

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9 Comments on "Taking the Virgin Out of Nigeria"

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David SF eastbay
Member

Somethings can’t work and you have to know when to get out when it doesn’t. To bad since you would think with a power name like Virgin that it would have a chance in an area of the world that always has had problems with airlines coming and going. The Virgin brand would be more stable and draw traffic just on the reputation alone.

Jay
Guest
Working in Africa, is not straight forward or easy…and I have plenty of experience of late on that continent! Nigerian backers had to pay the Virgin group, a huge license fee, which cut deeply into their cashflow! When the lisence was up for renewal, along with a change in government (individuals) The stage was set to kick Branson out. They parted ways, with a huge payout thrust at Branson, and V Nigeria comes to a close. Nigeria is a filthy African nation, when compared to others; when you look at their human rights, living conditions, business practices etc. I always… Read more »
David
Guest

But how will I get to Nigeria to pick up the inheritance money that was left to me by my uncle’s brother’s college-roommate’s nephew who died recently? I’ve already sent my $10,000 cash advance to the broker in Nigeria …

Darn.

;-)

David
Guest

Without ‘Virgin’ the name becomes just ‘Nigeria’.
Welcome back, Nigeria Airlines. What a beacon of fine practices you were the last time you were around.
And great business decisions, like dumping the Virgin brand? That’ll help you go the same way you went before!

Len Hobbs
Guest
I watched, from Accra, Ghana, as the ‘Virgin’ effort was put together. They made the same mistake that all African carriers, and most of the world’s carriers, make; two huge errors which cost them the airline. One; in every case they selected the wrong airplane to fly to the cities served…the ‘cost’ of the airplane was never covered by the ‘price’ of the ticket… Secondly; Africans haven’t connected the dots which balances ‘business people’ with ‘airline & maintenance guys’. SAA is the only operation on the continent which has figured out that a bunch of accountants cannot run an airline…somebody… Read more »
Raymond Archer
Guest

I am trying to reach Len Hobbs, can anyone help me with his contact. My email address is archer2gh@yahoo.com.

Nick Holt
Guest

You are not the only one trying to reach Mr. Hobbs. He seems to be avoiding responding to my repeated requests.

Jay
Guest
A great article here! – Branson is not the nice guy he claims to be! ..He cries over BA/AA .. but has sought from before to take over BMI and create a powerhouse at LHR! Not that BA are nice guys either…lol Irrepressible British businessman, Richard Branson’s $25 million investment in Virgin Nigeria Airways in 2005, translating to 49 per cent of the equity in the Nigerian airline appears to have been self serving, THISDAY investigations reveal. Documents sourced from the troubled Nigerian airline allege that the British billionaire, using his Virgin Atlantic Airline, was simply out to milk VNA… Read more »
Poor Hapless, Helpless Nigerian
Guest
Poor Hapless, Helpless Nigerian
“The end of this relationship just shows how hard it can be to do business in Africa.” Strong assertion; blind assertion. The license was up for renewal, both parties decided to part ways. Seems simple enough to me. But wait…what is a piece about Nigeria, nay, Africa without a healthy dose of knee jerk bile and invective? Poor dumb jay visits some African countries feels he’s earned the right to speak on all. In condemning “Nigeria” you condemn the government (who is rightly criticized) along with the people who are victims of the human rights allegation you tossed out. Needless… Read more »
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