Amidst Record Airline Failures, Nigeria's Green Africa Moves Closer To Launch - FORBES

OCTOBER 09, 2019

BY   Will Horton

Airline failures are at a record high in recent history, with 17 airlines having exited the business, according to consultancy IBA. While affected companies were global, from Avianca Brasil to India’s Jet Airways, most examples have been in Europe. They range from big leisure operator Thomas Cook to smaller peer XL Airways, specialist Aigle Azur and Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways.

The sector is heading into northern winter, traditionally when demand is lower and yields weaker. This year there is greater economic uncertainty and fuel price volatility. That operating and financial environment could see more market exits, IBA CEO Phil Seymour told Reuters.

Amidst the gloom, there are still start-ups. There are a number in high-growth Asia, including regional markets other than mainland China.

There is also Nigeria’s Green Africa Airways. The West African nation has had a number of start-ups – and failures – but Green Africa has a bold vision. It committed to 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft last December, comprised of 50 firm aircraft and another 50 options.

While the deal is not an official order, it is rare for start-ups to place high profile orders. Boeing has usually been reluctant to get involved with start-ups, in comparison to Airbus that succeeded in its partnership with A320 family operator JetBlue but saw other A320 family operators – Skybus, Independence Air – go bust.

Green Africa is “anchored” by two former American Airlines executives – chairman and CEO Tom Horton and CCO Virasb Vahidi – as well as William Shaw, founder and former CEO of VivaColombia, a statement said when announcing the 737 commitment.

Green Africa is moving forward with its launch plan, debuting a brand identity (below) designed by Pentagram. Website, aircraft livery and cabin crew uniform will be disclosed later, and Green Africa only says its brand identity “draws on elements of Nigerian and African heritage.”


That is evident in the use of green, although Nigeria is typically associated with a darker green. What is certain is that the bold pattern reflects an apparent strong vision to build a pan-African network, not a small task and which plenty have failed at before. Geometric patterns are in vogue, and perhaps the shape is a heavily simplified icon of the African continent.

Since the name “Green Africa” was established, aviation’s environmental contribution has garnered significant attention, particularly with “flygskam,” or flight shaming. With a modern brand and “green” in the name, there may now be higher expectations for Green Africa, adding to the already steep task of succeeding in Nigeria.

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