The Lagos-based budget carrier received its first CRJ200 freighter (Reg.: 5N-CBZ), with more to follow. The management emphasizes that, up to now, no other airline in West Africa has this Canada manufactured aircraft in its fleet. Stepping into cargo is an important operational and commercial decision for the airline that commenced passenger services across Nigeria only in October of last year.
Pioneering the CRJ200P2F
According to the carrier’s Managing Director, Omololu Majekodunmi, ValueJet plans to acquire three additional Canadair Regional Jet CRJ200 freighter conversions in the third quarter of 2023. There is no carrier operating this P2F rebuild in West Africa yet, making ValueJet a pioneer in the Greater Region.
Since becoming airborne, the newcomer has set up a domestic network that includes scheduled flights to/from Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Benin City, Omagwa, Asaba, and Jos, the capital city of Nigeria’s Jos Plateau State in the country’s center. Up to now, except for Lagos and Abuja, the other destinations mentioned above are poorly served as far as cargo transports are concerned. Though that will not change overnight, by becoming part of ValueJet Cargo’s network but things may now gradually improve. This will be the case particularly after the summer, when the airline receives additional freighter conversions of the same CRJ variant and starts deploying them on domestic routes.
Operations have stabilized
On the occasion of the arrival of the first freighter in Lagos, Managing Director Majekodunmi looked back at the first 100 days of ValueJet’s operations: Following a bumpy beginning, “we have been able to stabilize our operations, gained more understanding of the market demands, and accommodated passengers’ preferred travel needs into our schedule.”
He expressed his airline’s vision to diversify its services and cater to the growing demand for cargo flights. Further, Mr. Majekodunmi emphasized the management’s guideline of stabilizing an on-time departure rate above 95%, and making flying affordable for everyone by offering reasonable air fares. Passenger load factors currently stand at impressive 97%, he assured.
Eyeing route expansion
After initially serving six Nigerian cities, ValueJet intends to gradually expand its routes, targeting Akure, Yola, Kano, and Gombe, which hold great potential for both passenger and cargo growth, the carrier states, citing market studies. This reinforces the airline’s commitment to diversify its services and cater to the growing demand for cargo transportation complementing pax services.
Chairman of ValueJet, Kunle Soname, remarked that the airline was no stranger to the cargo industry and would base its services on the need for the right pricing.
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