Black Excellence: The Nigerian Behind The New Airline Planned To Offer Cheap Flights

Babawande Afolabi returned from the United States to Nigeria to start an airline company. He is the founder of Lagos-based value airline, Green Africa Airways. The airline due to start operations in 2020, but because of the coronavirus outbreak, he had to postpone the official operation of the airline.

As the world economy starts to recover from the pandemic and Nigeria begins opening its borders and easing restrictions on business, Green Africa Airways is set to fly in the sky soon. The firm is planning to start operations at seven local destinations, including Lagos, Abuja, Portharcourt, Akure, Enugu, and Ilorin.

In 2020, Afolabi’s company ordered fifty (50) A220-300s from Airbus and is also committing to lease an additional three of the aircraft from the leasing company, GTLK Europe. The lease allows Green Africa to meet its planned launch of commercial operation.

“It has been an incredible journey thus far – a Series A round of funding backed by some of the best players in the industry; a strong management team on the ground with a nuanced understanding of the local market; a marque strategic partnership with Airbus for 50 firm A220-300s; and now a secured inaugural fleet with GTLK Europe that will help bridge the gap between now and when our Airbus order book starts delivering next year. The gTeam is beyond excited about and laser-focused on getting Green Africa into the sky in 2020,” he said at the time.

Green Africa in May 2021 announced the arrival of its second aircraft at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. The company is on course to commence operations as soon as possible.

Before founding Green Africa, Afolabi has had stints in the finance and airline industries. He also has experience in investment banking for financial institutions and emerging market clients at Morgan Stanley. His experience also includes corporate strategy at American Airlines. 

Afolabi is also the founder of Teatime Capital, a venture capital initiative focused on making micro-equity investments to ultra-small Nigerian businesses in often overlooked regions of the country. “Giving people micro-loans means giving them a shot at life,” said Afolabi, who is in his 30s. “Small businesses give people the means to send children to school, hopefully raising the literacy rates and lowering crime. It provides a new foundation for society.”

The entrepreneur holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics from Illinois Wesleyan University. He also holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business (2014). 

However, it has recently been reported that his airline has begun sales of tickets for travelers to reserve a seat on its fleet. This follows pre-sales approval from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Flights as low as N16,500 ($40) are available on the airline’s website with flight dates starting from June 24, 2021.

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