Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bellview - From Tutelage to Consolidation

Bellview started as a travel agency in Lagos, Nigeria in 1989. Three years later, it leased a Russian-built aircraft, a Yak 40 with a capacity of 30 passengers, with which it commenced executive charter operations.

In 1993 Bellview Airlines commenced scheduled passenger services within the country, using a DC-9-32 series aircraft leased directly from the Boeing Company. The Airline and her affiliate, Bellview Sierra Leone, have since grown into a sector leader in the country and flagship regional carrier in the West African sub-region, providing services to seven international destinations in Nigeria, Cote D'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, Ghana, Gambia.

Her operations have expanded into Central African countries of Cameroun and Gabon, and recently Johannes-burg in South Africa.

Bellview thus operates in ten countries, with over 25 daily-schedule flights to 14 cities in the sub-region.

It has continued to maintain a good share of the air transport market in the West African region. In Nigeria, the Airlines was voted the best airline of the year in four consecutive years -1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998.

The airline, which only recently suspended her services to the Indian commercial city of Mumbai (Bombay) in India, now operates direct flights into London Heathrow, United King-dom. Amongst numerous firsts, Bellview is the first airline to operate Airbus A300-600 aircraft in Nigeria after the national carrier and the first privately owned airline to do so in Africa. Its A300-600R Bellview commenced operations to Brazil, India and Kenya on November 21, 1997; and from 1998 commenced flight operations into Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The long haul service was discontinued in 2000.

Bellview currently operates with a fleet of four Boeing 737-200s and two Boeing 767-200ERs.

Consequent on getting government's nod through designation on international routes, Bellview had commenced non stop operations between Lagos and Mumbai. With the two 767-200ERs, Bellview began offering flights to London through Freetown throu-gh her affiliate Bellview Sierra Leone until her designation on the UK route, which enables her to offer the current two weekly direct flights to Heathrow. Now an intercontinental airline, Bellview wholly private shareholding has risen above N2.1 billion in investors' fund at the end of the recent recapitalization exercise advised by the Federal Govern-ment.

Bellview was the pioneer Nigerian airline in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Clearing House. She has maintained a computer reservation system for her operations for over eight (8) years and hosts Galileo (a leading Global Distribution System), making Bell-view Airlines Limited the sole representative of Galileo International in the country. Bellview also hosts IATA's Agency Investigation Panel (AIP) headquarters in West Africa.

The airline, again the first in Nigeria, has introduced e-ticketing system with the entire hardware requirement already met, and staff trained, making it possible for passengers to book their flights through CRS of available Global Distribution Networks or the internet, even in homes, private offices and at passengers' convenience.

Bellview Airlines was voted the 2003 and 2004 African Regional Airline of the Year by the London based

African Aviation magazine. Bellview won a befitting trophy for being the best Customer-Sensitive Airline in a nation-wide poll conducted by a foremost Consumer Rights Advo-cacy in 2004.

June 2005, Bellview was issued the Approval Certificate as a Part 145 maintenance organization by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). EASA is the agency created to harmonize aviation safety regulations and certification processes within the European Union (EU); and the certification approved the airline's maintenance standards as meeting that required of European registered aircraft. Septem-ber 2005, Bellview received the Corporate Achieve-ment Award in Ethiopia at the 11th Aviation and Allied Business Leader-ship Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Bell-view was remarked to have distinguished herself with "her outstanding contributions to the Air Transport Industry in Africa."

On the socio economic impact of Bellview operations on her home country, Nigeria, the airline today provides the most enduring and consistent air link between Nigeria and her West Coast neighbours with attendant commerce and development benefits. From a company with just 12 employees in 1992, Bellview today employs over 500 Nigerians, providing employment, job training and economic empowerment for teeming youth.

As a company with a big charitable heart, Bellview is actively involved in the collection of funds on behalf of the Sickle Cell Foundation for the National Sickle Cell Centre, among other charity endeavours, to make a difference in the lives of less privileged citizens of Nigeria and her other host countries.

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