Despite the turbulence in the sector, the new airline, JetWest, owned by Mr. Dikko Nwachukwu, a serial entrepreneur with a background in aviation, is set to make its maiden voyage in December 2017, and the team behind it is aiming high.
According to the Nigerian born billionaire owner, the guiding vision for JetWest is to make air travel accessible for more people. “We are about democratizing the skies,” says Nwachukwu.
Just 15.2 million passengers passed through Nigerian airports in 2016, according to official statistics.
Nwachukwu sees opportunity in the vast market unserved by existing airlines. Nigeria has by far the largest population in Africa, and the entrepreneur draws inspiration from rapid progress in another technology field.
“We want to do for travel what cell phones did for telecoms,” he says bullishly. “Fifteen years ago there were less than one million phone lines in Nigeria and now there are 100 million…We could have 100 million (air) travelers, and I know jetWest will be in the middle of the revolution.”
JetWest aims to project a fresh and vibrant image. The company’s social media accounts are already trailing colorful cocktails and memes ahead of launch, aimed at youthful, savvy consumers.
Such consumers may also be attracted to the airline’s core selling point: value. JetWest will offer a pared down service “more Easyjet than Etihad” at rock-bottom prices.
“We will cut out everything not core to the business and focus on getting fliers from A to B,” says Nwachukwu. “Beyond that, we will have unbundled services so customers can pick and choose what they want.”
Given the high cost and risk involved with launching a fleet in Nigeria’s current economic climate, the entrepreneur is mindful of the need to find efficiencies. He suggests the company might pool resources with other airlines.
More ambitiously, the business model will rely on innovation. JetWest is developing its own proprietary technologies in-house, drawing on the best talent from Nigeria’s renowned start-up scene, in a conscious effort to boost local industry as well to avoid costly rental equipment. The company intends to eventually supply technology to other airlines.