Monday, January 1, 2018

Nigeria Airways: The Right Connections for Nigeria and West Africa, May 1979 (1 of 2)


Having now extensively reviewed the myriad airlines of contemporary and recent Nigeria, this New Year's Day we look back almost forty years to the era of the Winged Elephant, when the green-striped jets of Nigeria Airways ruled the skies.

Similar to previous features on The Timetablist, the national carrier was seeking the discerning eye of the Air Transport World reader in May, 1979, boasting of its "luxurious DC10," to "the nerve center of business in Africa," Lagos, but also throughout West Africa, as is helpfully shown in the route map at lower left.

What is today an aviation market arranged around the twin poles of Lagos and Abuja was, before Abuja was realized, organized between the southern hub of Lagos and the northern gateway of Kano, from whence intercontinental flights crossed the Sahara to European metropoles, including Rome and Amsterdam, but likewise eastward to the Middle East; the Kano—Jeddah link was recently revived but in those days the operation had the somewhat unusual final termination point of Karachi. A sort of code share, presumably on Egyptair, linked Cairo—Athens. Note also the cross-border link from Kano to Niamey, Niger. 

There was a second non-stop to London from Lagos, but mostly this was the start of the coastal routes along West Africa's edge, CotonouLoméAccraAbidjanMonrovia, where the widebody headed nonstop for New York JFK, while the smaller elements of the fleet linked FreetownBanjulDakar and back in a minihub. There was a nonstop from Lagos to Douala, and also a connection to southeastern Calabar, as well as flights to Libreville and Nairobi. 

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