Nigerian startup Green Africa Airways has committed to purchasing up to 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, Boeing said Dec. 21. Split between 50 firm orders and 50 options, the deal is valued at $11.7 billion if all purchase rights are exercised.
Boeing described the transaction as “the largest aircraft deal ever for the African continent.”
Green Africa Airways, which has secured its air transport license from the Nigerian government, was founded in 2014 by Babawande Afolabi, a former Morgan Stanley investment banker. Afolabi is now the airline’s CEO.
The Lagos-based carrier “aims to offer safe, quality and affordable air travel and be a significant contributor to the economic development of Nigeria and the African continent.”
The airline has garnered an array of industry veterans to helm its management. Former Caribbean Airlines acting CEO and VP-operations Jagmohan Singh is COO of the startup, and the carrier describes itself as being anchored by a group of senior industry leaders led by former American Airlines chairman and CEO Tom Horton; VivaColombia founder and former CEO William Shaw; and former American CCO Virasb Vahidi.
Describing the deal as historic for the Nigerian and African aviation industry, Afolabi said “[the] landmark deal takes us much closer to our long-held dream of building a world-class airline that will unlock a new realm of positive possibilities for millions of customers. Broadly speaking, this deal is a bold symbol of the dynamism, resilience and soaring entrepreneurial drive of the next generation of Nigerians and Africans.”
“Nigeria is uniquely positioned to be the home of the next major value airline,” Vahidi said. “The strategic partnership with Boeing positions Green Africa Airways to expand and improve air travel for customers in Nigeria, and further strengthens the relationship between the US, Nigeria and Africa.”
Green Africa plans to initially develop the Nigerian market and then build a strong pan-African network.
Boeing is forecasting airlines in Africa will require 1,190 new aircraft in the next two decades as the continent increases intracontinental and intercontinental connectivity.
A delivery schedule for the new aircraft was not released.