Nigerian startup UmzaXpress (UMZ) has taken delivery of its first DHC-8-Q400 after C-FSRY (msn 4174) was ferried from Canada via Iceland and Europe to Abuja, Nigeria this week.

Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows the aircraft - bearing NG Eagle tail colours but UmzaXpress branding - left St Thomas on August 9 and travelled via Goose Bay, Reykjavik Keflavik (Iceland), London Southend (UK) to arrive in Nigeria on August 10. It will be re-registered in Nigeria as 5N-CAC.

The 15-year-old De Havilland Aircraft of Canada turboprop last flew with Canada's Jazz Air (QK, Halifax), ch-aviation fleets advanced data reveals.

ch-aviation research found UmzaXpress is linked to a private company called Umza Aviation Services, registered in Abuja, Nigeria, on October 30, 2019, (Number 1629233), with a paid share capital of NGN500 million naira (USD1.1 million).

The new aircraft was purchased by Mohammed Abubakar, owner of Umza Farms, and is part of a new partnership between virtual carrier UmzaExpress and Aero Contractors (N2, Lagos), which will operate it. A further four Dash 8-400s are expected.

Aero Contractors has operated under the receivership of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) since February 2016 and suspended its scheduled passenger flight operations last month, citing a harsh operating environment.

Aero's managing director, Abdullahi Mahmood, told a media conference in Abuja to mark the aircraft's arrival that the UmzaExpress partnership is part of his company's relaunch plans. "As you know, we have suspended our scheduled operations, so this is part of our recovery strategies since most of our aircraft are undergoing maintenance and we want to make sure that when we are coming back as we promised, we come back very strong,” he was quoted by Leadership newspaper.

"It is a strategic business alliance that we have with the owner of the aircraft whereby they brought the aircraft and it is like a sharing formula. If you look at the aircraft, it is not like a wet lease because it is a Nigerian registered aircraft, so it is our crew that are going to operate it. Our pilots, cabin crew are going to operate it. We have finished signing the agreement with them."

AMCON was also behind plans for NG Eagle, certification of which was suspended on orders of the Nigerian Senate in October 2021 over AMCON's NGN235 billion (USD572 million) debt, mostly exposure to Arik Air (W3, Lagos), which is also under AMCON's receivership. AMCON spokesperson Jude Nwauzor was not immediately able to comment.