While most airlines are replacing four-engined widebodies for more fuel-efficient twin-engine jets, Nigeria’s Azman Air has decided to fly an Airbus 340-600. After completing its certification with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the aircraft registration number 5N-AAM is ready to begin commercial operations.
The NCAA issued the aircraft type certification following proving flights to Blaise Diagne International Airport (DSS) in Senegal and Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) in Nassau, the Bahamas. Before being acquired by Azman Air in early 2020, the plane had been flying for Virgin Atlantic since 2006.
The aircraft used to belong to Virgin Atlantic
Deciding to operate with a large 409 seat aircraft is a big move for Azman Air. Before its delivery, the aviation statistics and data website ch-aviation lists Azman Air as having a fleet of six older Boeing 737s. The talk was that Azman Air would use the quadjet for international flights from Nigeria to Dubai, Jeddah, and China.
Looking at flight tracking ADS-B data on RadarBox.com we can see that the aircraft flew to Dushanbe International Airport (DYU) in Tajikistan on August 26, 2021. According to ch-aviation the aircraft has been recruited to help transport Afghan refugees to Europe.
Afghans have fled to Tajikistan
Since the fall of Kabul, thousands of former Afghan military, police, and people who deem themselves in danger of Taliban reprisals have fled to neighboring countries. Tajikistan borders Afghanistan to the north and has opened its borders to Afghans looking to escape the Taliban.
News of Tajikistan’s involvement in helping to resettle Afghanis in third countries was first made public by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on August 20th, 2021. Now even though the airlift from Hamid Karzai International Airport (KBL) is over, hundreds if not thousands are still waiting to be resettled in new countries.
About Azman Air
Based at Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (KAN) in Kano, Nigeria, Azman Air is a privately owned airline belonging to Nigerian businessman Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina. Before the arrival of the former Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-600, Azman Air flew domestic flights with two Boeing 737-300s and four Boeing 737-500s.
Citing a safety advisory from Nigerian regulators, Azman Air suspended all flights in March for six weeks. It later came to light that NCAA had grounded Azman Air following three incidents involving the undercarriage on Azman’s Boeing 737s. A failure to report the incidents properly and a lack of proper maintenance records made the decision easy for the NCAA.