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Nigerian Startup ValueJet Operates Its First Flights

A newcomer has entered the Nigerian domestic market, with a fleet of three CRJ-900s.

Nigeria’s newest airline, ValueJet, has taken to the skies for its first commercial flights. From October 10th, the airline, which received its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) last month, will operate a series of domestic routes from Terminal 2 at Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS). The first routes to be launched are Lagos to Abuja (ABV), Port Harcourt (PHC), Jos (JOS), and Asaba (ABB).

Flights will be operated by the airline’s current fleet of three Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft, each seating 90 passengers. Earlier this year, ValueJet took delivery of its first two CRJ900s, which previously belonged to Spanish regional carrier, Air Nostrum. They were later joined by one more CRJ900 that had been operating for Lufthansa CityLine.

Flights to more destinations are expected to be launched as additional aircraft join the fleet.

ValueJet CRJ900
ValueJet launched flights on October 10th to a handful of domestic destinations. Photo: ValueJet

The flight schedule

As of the launch of operations on October 10th, ValueJet operates twice-daily services between Lagos and Abuja. From Lagos, the airline also flies daily to Port Harcourt, and three times weekly to both Jos and Asaba.

Let’s take a look at ValueJet’s current flight schedule on the Lagos to Abuja route:

  • Flight VK200 – departs Lagos at 06:45 and arrives in Abuja at 08:00
  • Flight VK201 – departs Abuja at 08:40 and arrives in Lagos at 09:55
  • Flight VK214 – departs Lagos at 15:20 and arrives in Abuja at 16:35
  • Flight VK215 – departs Abuja at 17:15 and arrives in Lagos at 18:30

On this busy domestic corridor, ValueJet faces competition from a range of carriers such as Max Air, as well as the country’s two largest airlines, Peace Air and Arik Air. Offering a double daily frequency on the route will help ValueJet to attract the lucrative business market, and better compete in what is already a crowded market.

ValueJet – a hybrid carrier

According to the airline’s management, ValueJet positions itself as a hybrid carrier, offering both low-cost and legacy options for all passengers – ValueLite, ValuePremium, and ValueXtra. The details of each fare can be seen in this tweet from the airline:

Speaking about ValueJet’s offering, the airline’s chairman, Kunle Soname, stated,

“We have identified a niche in the sector, the need for fair pricing amidst the rising cost of commercial aviation to the average customer compounded by tough economic realities for air operators.”

Potential for growth

ValueJet currently has three CRJ-900s in its fleet. Two more aircraft are expected to arrive over the coming months, and will help the airline to launch new destinations and increase frequency on existing routes.

ValueJet CRJ900 cabin
ValueJet's CRJ900 aircraft seat a total of 90 passengers each. Photo: ValueJet

Sonome went on to address the airline’s future growth plans, saying,

“With a long-term vision and growth mindset, we have set our sights in the coming years to expand beyond the Nigerian airspace. We are in a privileged position despite existing economic headwinds. We are building a cost-conscious business with an understanding of the sector and how Nigeria is poised to play a key role in developing Africa’s aviation by joining the rest of the global players in regional and international markets.”

Among ValueJet’s future routes are Lagos to Kano (KAN) via Abuja, Lagos to Yola (YOL) via Abuja, and Lagos to Benin (BNI).

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