View Full Version : New Virgin Route - Brave or reckless?

6th Jul 2001, 17:12
London-based Virgin Atlantic Airways, the second British carrier on the lucrative London-Lagos route, yesterday made its maiden flight to Nigeria, breaking two decades of monopoly of the route by British Airways.

The Boeing 747-200, with on board the chairman of the airline, Sir Richard Branson and senior officials of Virgin, was received by Nigerian Aviation Minister Kiema Chikwe and other senior government officials when it landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport yesterday morning in the capital Abuja.

The aircraft then flew down to the country's commercial capital Lagos.

Branson said that Virgin's flight to Nigeria was historic for the bilateral relations between Britain and the West African country.

Meanwhile, Chikwe said that the agreement allowing Virgin fly the heavily-used London-Lagos route was "a welcome development" as the competition would bring benefit of choice to Nigerians.

During his stay in Abuja, Branson met with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who described Virgin's entry into Nigeria's aviation market will "bring the gap created by the British Airways monopoly".

Obasanjo also urged the Virgin to explore other areas in Nigeria that could be of mutual benefit for the two countries.

Nigeria and Britain last April signed a "dual designation" agreement, in which both countries allow two airlines to operate on the Lagos-London route. The Lagos service is Virgin's third African route and its 22nd destination in all.

6th Jul 2001, 18:20
Dear Richard,

1) Make sure that they pay up front.
2) Make sure you pay off the right guy.
3) Make sure that the right guy stays there
4) Just make sure...


I'd rather be flying... :)

6th Jul 2001, 18:30
My goodness, I would never send a Virgin into Nigeria for she will most certainly return a fallen woman. But good luck to all concerned. Ignore Dutchie's advice above at your peril.

Jeffrey Archers Friend
6th Jul 2001, 19:14
Haven't Virgin wet leased a very old Atlanta classic to do this run?

Penn Doff
6th Jul 2001, 19:19
JAF, not entirely true as the aircraft is not that old and was already on lease. Unless you are a reg no spotter you would be hard pushed to tell it apart from some of the other RR powered B742's

"please report further"

6th Jul 2001, 20:39
Yes, Air Atlanta are doing this one for VS. So be warned as to where you will spend your time if you respond to Atlanta's ad in this week's Flight.

6th Jul 2001, 20:48
Atlanta are only doing it until Nov.

6th Jul 2001, 20:54
Sorry but could not help but to reply to this one. As a Virgin FA I am personally not very happy about going to Lagos. Eventhough the route is being operated by an Atlants crew at the moment we all know that we at mainline will eventually have to do the flights. I have spoke to many of our crew about it and non of us are too happy about going to Lagos after all the horror stories that we have heard.
The company will have a long way to go to make the crew feel at ease flying to Lagos. Most of us are afraid that it is the only flt we will ever be called on stby for as everyone will threaten to phone in sick for it. We will have to wait and see what happends. What do our flt deck thinck about the route, pls let me know. Would be good to get the opinions of you gents.

Tarek Nor
6th Jul 2001, 21:33
Crewrest unless you've got some new info, then I think you are mistaken.
The fish heads think they are going to be flying this one for a lot longer.

[This message has been edited by Tarek Nor (edited 06 July 2001).]

6th Jul 2001, 22:02
With the moves by BA in selling off their Classics and introducing 777's does anyone know who is buying them? Will VS be using them when the last go from BA early next year?

Noddy Staltern
6th Jul 2001, 22:40
The service will be operated by Air Atlanta until November, using the aircraft that has been doing the VS Caribbean routes since January this year. The Caribbean routes return to VS mainline this month. Air Atlanta will supply all but 2 of the cabin crew for each flight (rather than just one on the Caribbean). The company has not yet announced what happens after November.

None of the (VS) flight deck on the Classic are particularly happy with the idea of going to Lagos!

6th Jul 2001, 23:06
Sorry folks but cant help having a giggle at the concerns raised by my colleagues at VS....for most of the cabin crew (Im certain this is true for our flight crew colleagues) operating our LOS services isnt a problem. Many of us prefer them to statesides....no time change, 6 hours each way - easy flying. Fair enough the airport is a hole, but its certainly easy enough to negotiate - no shuttle trains to take & no queues at immigration, also the d/free shops are very cheap. The hotel we use at BA is close to the airport is cleaner & service has been improved over the last couple of years - both KLM & AF also stay there.
For cabin crew the flights are extremely busy, but as long as you are on the same wavelength at the nigerian pax they are hard work but fun....Nigerian pax will walk over anyone they see as being weak...my advice....give as good as you get & always laugh with them & never at them.....
See you all in Goodies at the Sheraton...

[This message has been edited by SussexPSR (edited 06 July 2001).]

7th Jul 2001, 01:29

There are certainly some tales to tell about aircrew and the Lagos experience.

Ask Lufthansa about the time when one of their crews was held up at gunpoint in transit twixt Hotel and A/P. They were robbed of every possession bar their underwear as I recall. Must say the way they handled it after the event was amazingly funny, though I feel sure they were far from amused at the time. Most crews who have any real experience of the place just don't try to tell others their tales ... for fear of simply not being believed. Perhaps that says it all.

I would deeply mistrust the post above by the 'lady from Sussex' who purports to be happy BA C/C. More likely to be one of your own senior administrators attempting to pour oil on the soon to be troubled waters.

[This message has been edited by tilii (edited 06 July 2001).]

7th Jul 2001, 04:39
tilii...firstly I'm a guy & if I was a woman Id be no lady ;-)) Secondly I was told by LH crew in DMM recently that you guys stay on Victoria Island which is some distance from the hotel, BA crew slip at a hotel in Ikeja 10-15 mins from the terminal to avoid the problems you describe...presumably the same goes for KL & AF.
Secondly, I am not a BA or VS manager(is it not fairly evident that I'm cabin crew for BA on Worldwide at LGW??), nor do I have any desire to be....and yes I do genuinely enjoy LOS flights for the resons I described earlier...much rather have a flight with no time change that is over before you know it than spending 13.5 hours cooped up on a 777 going to EZE with 8 hours still to go when you get back from the bunks!! Maybe things are different at LH....but at BA even the crew that dont enjoy them recognise the importance of the route which is right up at the top in terms of profits...and we do have much worse trips...HRE certainly isnt safe at the moment..ABJ got a little hairy last year...DEN n/stop 7hr time change & long journey 2 & from airport...10day LUN trips...and the ultimate punishment trip...the 4day DMM

[This message has been edited by SussexPSR (edited 06 July 2001).]

Tom East
8th Jul 2001, 01:13
Why Lagos? We need the money, or at least the boss needs it to take out of the airline yet again to support yet another venture, this time it's mobile phones in the US.. doesn't he know they've all got one?

Anyway, Lagos has been muted for quite a while but, up until now, has been considered too risky. 'IF' you get the money in the bank in advance, there's money to be made on the route. It is not a hub, not a potential holiday destination, just a cash cow, which could be eaten at any time.

Air Atlanta has begun the route, and if it looks OK, I guess we, the main company bit, are supposed to take it on in November, BUT, as was mentioned, it could be postponed.

For Lagos as a destination, BA have and KLM have been doing it long enough to know that it isn't as bad as we at VA have been led to believe. There are problems, but they are not exclusive to Lagos...Miami/Caribbean, and there's no Banana Republic or Costco, bottom line is RB needs the cash. :)

8th Jul 2001, 04:37
At the opening of the new Virgin Megastore in downtown Beirut a few days ago, RB stated his intent for Virgin to start operating to Beirut!

8th Jul 2001, 16:26
I think you will find that Air Atlanta will be operating the route for anything upto a year. Regardless of peoples problems with going to Lagos this is money that should be paid to VS crews and not to a foreign based operator!

8th Jul 2001, 16:39
Jeffrey Archers Friend, I think TF-ABA is the Air Atlanta aircraft doing the job... Hope it's had a bit of a facelift inside since its recent Iberia services..!?

TA :p

8th Jul 2001, 23:51
Lagos airport today is nothing like the image it has from years gone by. Sure, there are all sorts of horror stories but most will be quite dated by now.

As mentioned, the Sheraton is close by and of a reasonable standard. Travelling further into town at night has its risks, then again Bradford isn't to clever at the moment.

The route makes money hand over fist for all that ply it, I imagine Sabena would have disapeared long ago with out it.

The Guvnor
9th Jul 2001, 05:44
Hey 212Man how are things? Still in PHC?

Don't forget, people, that LGW-LOS was BCal's most profitable route ... when they could actually get the Naira converted and out of the country! :D :rolleyes: :D

9th Jul 2001, 23:21
T E,

I think you will find that your boss is right about mobile phones in USA. They do not all have mobiles! They mostly have pagers. There is a very different culture in mobile comms between the USA and Europe/Asia, the back ground to which I shall not trouble you with, unless you request it.

Allow me just to say that I have been in telecommunications for 22 years and have been involved with mobile comms since 1983.

10th Jul 2001, 02:59
Good luck to the VS crews when they start this route!

Granted, the flight time may be relatively short , but that 6 hours onboard is pretty hellish in the cabin - it takes alot to get used to the apparent arrogance that is directed at You.

The first time I went to Lagos, I was horrified to see an armed guard riding on the outside of the crew bus.

As mentioned before , there is always the threat of kidnap, and i believe over the years this has happened on at least 2 occasions,with crew being held captive in the mountains.

Finally, and importantly,the threat of malaria is ever present in Nigeria, again, I believe since the 767 started operating to Entebbe/Abuja in the last year ,at least 3-5 flight crew have succumbed to this deadly disease <some cerebral> ,and with very few crew taking medication <due to side effects>
,the chances remain high if you choose to ignore this health advice.

The bar is O-K in the Sheraton ,and to most crew is the only consolation for much needed drinks after arrival !!!

Try and enjoy - just take great care.

10th Jul 2001, 10:43
What mountains would they be then? I hardly think they would take people up to Jos/Abuja area from Lagos.

Most of the kidnappings you will have heard of happened in the Delta area (PH and Warri) and concerned personnel involved in the oil industry.

I think the horror at the armed guard is rather melodramatic; LHR and LGW are full of policemen wandering around with sub-machine guns.

10th Jul 2001, 15:57
I was in Lagos for the VS inaugural flight.
On the whole the experience was far better than I was expecting. The Sheraton is not to bad as long as you are not expecting 5 star treatment. The bar and resturants are ok - you may not always get what you order but that's also part of the experience.
Given the VS schedule early morning arrival and departure, crews will not have the time to go walk about but, if you do want to get out the hotel can arrange this, just let them know your destination are time you are due to return - they will provide a driver and vehicle.
Crew transport is by escorted bus to and from the airport/Sheraton and, according to the staff from other airlines I have spoken to they feel quite safe.

I took a day wandering around the airport and had no problems at all, the airport staff are very friendly and helpful.
There is a great deal of work going on to modernise the gate areas and bring them into line with european airports.

On the whole it is not as bad as those who have not visited would have us believe, also the Lagos Airport documentary programme screened on TV presents a somewhat false image, the Airport has changed considerably since the making of the programme.


10th Jul 2001, 16:41
FCO(UK) advice dated 29/06/2001:

"Most visits to Nigeria are trouble-free but visitors should be aware that violent crime is prevalent in Lagos and elsewhere in the south of the country.

Disturbances occurred between Saturday 23 and Wednesday 27 June, in Nassarawa State, resulting in a number of deaths. The situation is changing rapidly and we advise those intending to visit Nassarawa or travel on the Akwanga-Makurdi road to contact the British High Commission in Abuja before setting out. British nationals in Nassarawa State should exercise caution and avoid large crowds.

Violent street crimes, armed robberies, muggings and car jackings are prevalent in Lagos and elsewhere in the south of the country. These are often committed by ordinary criminals. There has recently been an increase in attacks on British nationals, expatriates and Nigerians on the Islands of Victoria and Ikoyi in Lagos. There has also been an increase in car-jacking, particularly in the Lagos regions. Top of the range 4 x 4 vehicles are especially vulnerable.

All visitors should arrange to be met on arrival at Lagos Airport by someone who is known to them or who properly identifies themselves (bogus greeters are a problem). This will ensure safe transport of themselves.

Certain parts of the country have experienced localised civil unrest and violence. The causes and locations of any unrest vary. Outbreaks have occurred in Lagos (Mainland and Lagos Island). South eastern Nigeria, the Delta region, Anambra, Benue, Kaduna, Kano, Gombe and Nassarawa (Central Nigeria) where we advise travellers intending to use the Akwanga-Makurdi road to contact the British High Commission, Abuja. Demonstrations for or against Sharia law may occur in northern states and can become violent without warning. There have also been demonstrations about the situation in the Middle East. British nationals are not specifically targeted. However, they and their vehicles may become caught up in a demonstration or disturbance.

There have been attacks of piracy/armed robbery against ships at anchor in Nigerian waters and at many of the waters and at many of the harbours in the Niger-Delta area. Mariners are advised to take appropriate precautions.

Visitors should be aware of frequency of hostage taking for ransom in Delta, River and Bayelsa States. More than a dozen British nationals were kidnapped last year. All were released unharmed, but there is no guarantee of peaceful resolutions in any future incidents. All are taken hostage due to local community problems. Although we do not advise against travel to the region, all visitors should be vigilant at all times. All resident British nationals should follow their employers’ local security guidelines. Others should seek local advice about travel and should make sure that local hosts/family know their travel plans and timings."

And an extract from the US Govt site - http://travel.state.gov/nigeria.html

consulate employees travel in armored vehicles between the islands and Murtala Mohammed International Airport. When traveling to the airport at night, Consulate employees are accompanied by a second vehicle carrying a police officer.

[ 10 July 2001: Message edited by: newswatcher ]

The Guvnor
11th Jul 2001, 06:13
It looks like Kabo Air will be the second Nigerian carrier designated on the London route. As well as a couple of ex BA 747-100s bought last year, they have just taken delivery of two ex Virgin -200s 5N-PPP (ex G-VLAX) and 5N-PDP (ex G-VJFK).

Their new colour scheme is remarkably nice as well!


11th Jul 2001, 23:16

I'm an FO on the Jurrassic and whilst I'm not going to bid for LOS I'm not crying about it. Sussex... lists all the same good points that 2 x BA CSDs (female) told me recently. As in the RAF a good push is not where you are but who you're with. The hotel sounds nice, the pizzaria in it is great and we're all stuck by the pool with nowhere to go and loads to drink for 48 hours. Bring a bottle mate..... :eek: