Nigerian startup Green Africa Airways (Q9, Lagos) has received its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and plans to start commercial operations between Lagos and Abuja on Thursday, August 12, 2021.

Certification was achieved on August 9 with the NCAA handing over the permit to Green Africa founder Babawande Afolabi at a ceremony in Abuja. Bookings for tickets opened on the same day.

Green Africa has leased three ATR72-600s from ACIA Aero to start operations and plans to scale to up to 15 ATRs by 2022. This would position Green Africa to become the largest operator of ATR in the region, the airline said in a statement. According to the ch-aviation fleets module, the aircraft are: 5N-GAA (msn 1057); 5N-GAD (msn 1076); and 5N-GAE (msn 1047).

As previously reported, the airline in February 2020, had placed an order for 50 A220-300s, however, delivery had been deferred in light of the impact of COVID-19. In December 2018, Green Africa had placed an order for up to 100 B737-8s, the largest order from the continent, but it was cancelled after the type was grounded by Boeing for 18 months following two fatal accidents.

Green Africa intends to launch services to seven domestic destinations, including Lagos; Akure; Ilorin; Abuja; Enugu; Owerri; and Port Harcourt Awolowo; with plans for two more bases outside of Lagos.

The carrier is the brainchild of Afolabi, who started planning the airline when he was an investment banker at Morgan Stanley and later, while doing an MBA at Standford Graduate School of Business, followed by an internship at American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) in Dallas.

Seed funding for the venture was raised in 2014, mainly from friends, former colleagues and classmates from Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) and Stanford GSB who contributed personal funds to support the vision. The incorporation of Green Africa followed in 2016 and an office was opened in Opebi, Lagos. New York-based investment management firm Kuramo Capital made the first major institutional investment in Green Africa in 2017. Boston-based Par Capital Ventures and a group of global industry investors provided additional funding between 2018 and 2019.

According to a company statement, the board comprises a group of senior industry leaders led by Tom Horton, former chairperson and chief executive of American Airlines; Kuramo Capital founder and chief executive Wale Adeosun; Viva Air Colombia founder and former chief executive, William Shaw; American Airlines former chief commercial officer Virasb Vahidi; Gbenga Oyebode, founder and chairperson of Nigeria’s largest law-firm, Aluko & Oyebode; and Dave Dickson, retired partner, EY (formerly Ernst & Young).