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Did You Know That Okada Air Was The First Private Commercial Airline Carrier In Nigeria?

Okada Air was an airline based in Benin City, Nigeria. The carrier was established in 1983 with a fleet of BAC-One Eleven 300s and started charter operations in September the same year. In 1984, a Boeing 707-355C was acquired for cargo operations. By 1990, ten BAC One-Elevens were bought, and eight more were acquired in 1991. The company was granted the right of operating international flights in 1992.

Okada Air: First Indigenous and One of the Largest

Okada Air is not only regarded as the first indigenous Nigerian airline, but it was also regarded as one of the largest independent African airlines prior to its collapse. At one point, it operated the Boeing 747-100 on ad-hoc charter flights across the globe, even across the Pacific Ocean. They also flew pilgrims to the Holy Lands every year.

In 1984, a Boeing 707-355C was acquired for cargo operations. By 1990, ten BAC One-Elevens were bought, and eight more were acquired in 1991. The company was granted the right of operating international flights in 1992.


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Destinations

Okada Air served the following destinations throughout its history:

Abuja – Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport

Benin – Benin Airport

Enugu – Akanu Ibiam International Airport

Jos – Yakubu Gowon Airport

Kaduna – Kaduna Airport

Kano – Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport

Lagos – Murtala Muhammed International Airport

Port Harcourt – Port Harcourt International Airport

Yola – Yola Airport

Part of its historical fleet included the following:

BAC One-Eleven-200,

BAC One-Eleven-300

BAC One-Eleven-400

BAC One-Eleven-500

Boeing 727-200

Boeing 707-300

Boeing 747-100

Douglas DC-8-62

Sud Aviation Caravelle

Dornier Do 228-100

PZL W-3 Sokół (one)

Accidents and incidents: Fatal accidents and non-fatal hull losses

  • On the 26th of June 1991, A BAC One-Eleven 402AP, registration 5N-AOW, force-landed 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) off Sokoto Airport due to fuel exhaustion. There were three fatalities, all of who were passengers. The aircraft had been diverted from the original Benin City–Kano route because of bad weather at the airport of destination.
  • On the 7th of September 1989, A BAC One-Eleven 320AZ, registration 5N-AOT, that was finalising a domestic scheduled Lagos–Port Harcourt passenger service was written off on a hard landing caused by bad weather at Port Harcourt Airport.
  • In 1992, A Dornier 228-100, registration 5N-NOR, resulted damaged beyond repair on landing at an unknown location in Nigeria.

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In 1997, the company was disestablished or better put, went under. It tried to return but at the time of its comeback, the Federal government – following an air crash – had banned aircraft BAC 1-11 and for an airline that had almost 20 BAC 1-11 during the time of that policy, it was quite difficult to bounce back with such a policy. The Nigerian media at one point reported Okada Air as planning to resume operations, but that plan hasn’t seen the daylight yet. There were plans to purchase 4 Boeing 727-200s and resume their flights, but nothing materialized after at least two restart attempts.

The owner of Okada Air is Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin; Esama meaning ‘Son of the People’.

Featured Image Source: Wikipedia


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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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