MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Virgin Nigeria Airways (VK) announced that it would rebrand itself as Nigerian Eagle Airlines in 2009.

After flag-carrier Nigeria Airways (WT) went bankrupt in 2003, the country’s government looked at establishing a new national airline. The Virgin Group and Nigerian investors worked together to create VK, established on September 28, 2004.

Virgin Nigeria operated a varied fleet including the Airbus A320 and A340, Boeing 767 and 737, as well as the Fokker 50 and later the Embraer E190. (Photo: Kenneth Iwelumo (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons)

Maiden Flight

Operations commenced on June 28, 2005, with a flight from Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS) to London Heathrow (LHR) with an Airbus A340-300 leased from Virgin Atlantic (VS). The new airline was extremely popular with the traveling public, winning numerous awards in its first year of operation.

The carrier expanded its route network to cover South Africa and the United Arab Emirates and looked at establishing a new base in Abuja. Its fleet also grew, adding the Boeing 767-300ER, Airbus A320, and further A340s.

A pair of Boeing 767-300ERs were operated from April 2007 until June 2009, both leased from SmartLynx. (Photo: John Taggart from Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Further Rebranding

However, VK’s monopoly in Nigeria soon came to an end when rival Arik Air (W3) launched flights in October 2006. The Nigerian government then forced the carrier to change terminals for its domestic operations at LOS, much to management’s annoyance.

In 2009 the Virgin Group announced its intention to removes its branding from VK. The carrier became Nigerian Eagle Airlines and shifted its focus to domestic and regional services. A further rebranding to Air Nigeria occurred in June 2010. But in September 2012 the airline was grounded over safety concerns.

Featured image: Air Nigeria was the final incarnation of Virgin Nigeria, rebranded in June 2010. (Photo: Kenneth Iwelumo (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2 ), via Wikimedia Commons)