Enugu-based United Nigeria Airlines has received an additional Airbus A320-200 to boost its capacity on various domestic routes during the winter season, per a monitored report on Simple Flying. It arrived just days after the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) sent it the cheering news that it has lifted the week-long suspension on the carrier’s wet-leased aircraft.
Two A320s in two months
Throughout the first three quarters of 2023, UNA operated a fleet of Embraer ERJ 145s across its domestic network. In June, the carrier revealed plans to add 12 new aircraft over the next two years, including two Embraer E190s, which it expected to acquire by the end of the year.
Instead, the domestic airline received one A320 in October 2023, which has been operating the majority of its flights. The single-aisle aircraft is wet-leased from Bulgaria’s Fly2Sky, supporting UNA’s winter operations. This has allowed the carrier to offer additional frequencies and enhanced connectivity in various local markets, although a planning error temporarily halted its operations penultimate week.
United Nigeria Airlines received its second A320 on December 4 at Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS). It is a 20-year-old aircraft built in Toulouse in June 2003 and first delivered to All Nippon Airways (ANA). According to data from ATDB.aero, the A320, registration JY-JAT, is part of Jordan Aviation’s fleet. UNA previously leased the same airframe from the Jordanian company in December 2022.
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Flightradar24 shows that the aircraft flew from Amman Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) on December 3, operating flight UN579. It departed Amman at 17:13 and flew to Tunis, where it remained on the ground for about an hour. It then took off from Tunis at around 20:10 and landed in Lagos at midnight. Videos shared by UNA show the jetliner spotting the airline’s red and turquoise livery.
Suspension of A320 operations
United Nigeria Airlines serves about six domestic destinations. The A320 leased from Fly2Sky (registration LZ-FSA) has been operating an average of eight flights per day, serving Lagos (LOS), Abuja (ABV), Port Harcourt (PHC), Asaba (ABB), and other Nigerian cities. However, an untimely incident occurred on November 26, which saw the aircraft operating flight UN504 land at the wrong airport. It was scheduled to fly from Lagos to Abuja but instead landed in Asaba, about 171 NM (316.6 km) from the intended destination.
The airline stated that it was a deliberate diversion due to poor destination weather, but it seems the crew was provided with the wrong flight plan. The lessor held the position that its crew conducted flight UN504 “in strict adherence to the schedule provided by United Nigeria Airlines on November 25, 2023.” According to Fly2Sky’s statement, the domestic flight schedule operated by the lessor since the signing of their agreement is determined exclusively by United Nigeria Airlines.
A320 returns to the skies
On November 27, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority opened an investigation into the incident. It also took a preliminary step to suspend the airline’s only wet-leased aircraft, causing significant disruptions to its flight schedules. After a week-long investigation, the suspension was lifted on December 2, allowing United Nigeria to resume its domestic A320 operations.
According to news reports, the NCAA determined that the incident was caused by a lack of adequate communication between the lessor’s operation control centre (OCC) and UNA’s OCC. It recommended that both flight and cabin crews conduct sufficient briefings before flights and that both OCCs strictly follow the necessary procedures.
UNA’s A320 returned to the skies on December 1 with a flight between Abuja and Lagos. It has since operated over 30 flights to other destinations on the airline’s network. It is unclear when the second A320 will enter revenue service, but it will undoubtedly offer additional capacity on these domestic routes.