NIGERIA– Upcoming Lagos-based Green Africa Airways has announced a commitment for up to 100 737 MAX 8 aircraft, terming the deal ‘historic’ as Nigeria’s newest airline gears up to begin commercial operations.

The deal, with a list-price of US$11.7 billion, is the largest aircraft agreement to be signed by an African airline, with 50 firm aircraft and 50 optional orders for the fourth generation 737 single-aisle aircraft that carries between 162-178 in a two class configuration.

“Today is a historic day for the Nigerian and African aviation industry. This landmark deal takes us much closer to our long-held dream of building a world-class airline that will unlock a new realm of positive possibilities for millions of customers,” said the airline.

Founded by Babawande Afolabi, Founder & CEO, a former investment banker for Morgan Stanley, Green Africa Airways, a value airline based in Lagos, Nigeria aims to offer safe, quality and affordable air travel and to be a significant contributor to the economic development of Nigeria and the African continent. The new airline has received its Air Transport License from the Nigerian government. 

Afolabi has put together a group of senior industry leaders led by Tom Horton, former Chairman and CEO of American Airlines, William Shaw, Founder and former CEO of VivaColombia and Virasb Vahidi, former CCO of American Airlines as he plans to launch its operations in Nigeria. 

“Nigeria is uniquely positioned to be the home of the next major value airline. The strategic partnership with Boeing positions Green Africa Airways to expand and improve air travel for customers in Nigeria, and further strengthens the relationship between the United States, Nigeria and Africa,” Vahidi said.

“The growth potential for air travel across Nigeria and Africa is extraordinary with the airplane fleet expected to more than double over the next 20 years. We are delighted that Green Africa Airways has selected the 737 MAX to serve this expanding market,” said Ihssane Mounir, Senior Vice President of Commercial Sales & Marketing, The Boeing Company. 

“We look forward to Green Africa Airways building their fleet with the MAX and taking advantage of the jet’s efficiency and dependability to open new options across Nigeria and the African continent.

Boeing will be a trusted partner to Green Africa Airways as the MAX is introduced into their operations and through their long-term success.”

The airline initially plans to develop the Nigerian market and then build a strong pan-African network.

Rising demand for air travel in Africa will see airlines in Africa require 1,190 new airplanes as the continent boosts both intra-continental and intercontinental connectivity by 2030, says Boeing.

The airline industry in Nigeria has seen the entrance of a number of players in the last decade, drawn in by the 170 million people, vast country and Africa’s No.2 economy.

These include Air Peace, Arik Airlines (in administration), Med View, Dana, Aero among others, which serve local, regional and international routes.

Green Africa Airways raised an undisclosed amount from Africa-focused investor Kuramo Capital Management in 2018 and has been on a hiring spree of airline industry veterans from around the world as it ramps up preparations to commence flying.