Delta you can’t come to Nigeria with that clapped out 767

That is the thinly veiled message that may have blunted the push of Delta Air Lines further into Africa.

The story goes, detailed in Nigeria’s Punch newspaper here, that Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Mr Babatunde Omotoba, turned Delta back because he wasn’t all that happy with the quality of the aircraft – a 767-200 – and its in-flight entertainment. The route in question was to Nigerian capital Abuja.


I got the tip on this story from a US source and would welcome any further details.

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20 Responses to Delta you can’t come to Nigeria with that clapped out 767

  1. Sell My HouseQuick 30 November, -0001 at 12:00 am #

    Is the software that runs this blog free software or is it just free to none profit making businesses?

  2. CoachBoy 17 April, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    Delta was actually looking at adding both a 4x weekly 763ER from JFK to Lagos as well as a 2x weekly 752ER service to Abuja from Atlanta via Sal Island. They currently run a daily 763ER from Atlanta. I’m not sure which of these got turned down. Delta’s 763ER’s have no personal IFE in Economy nor lie flat beds in Business. Their 752ER’s have AVOD IFE through the plane and recliners in business. The article also notes that the minister was not happy with BA but BA runs a daily 744 to Lagos and 77E to Abuja. I’m not sure what he was getting at. Perhaps he’s a little bent out of shape at Delta’s new nonstop 77L service to JNB and is wondering why his country isn’t getting the same equipment. Incidentally, Delta’s 77L’s have a great lie flat bed product in J and AVOD all over.

  3. Mark Pilling 17 April, 2009 at 5:39 pm #

    Thanks for the update Coachboy. There are two things that are of interest in this story – one, the suggestion that a fickle government official could actually make decisions on this basis, and two, the fact that this kind of behaviour does not surprise us coming from Nigeria.

    Also, I wonder if home-grown and fast-growing Arik Air has had something to do with it?

    In our recent interview with Arik, the New York-Lagos market was one of those on its radar:

  4. Anthony Rotzler 19 April, 2009 at 8:46 am #

    It is regretable that Delta is still using tired old birds like the 767 to Nigeria, service on board is better not mentioned (should you have the missfortune of ordering a beer you’ll get local nigerian beer and that is the only choice on board), can relate to the Aviation Ministers comments

  5. W. Wilson 19 April, 2009 at 6:27 pm #

    I’m 56,but what on Earth is a 767! Oh yeah, Ive just remembered going Manchester to Ibiza on a last minute cheapy in the 80′s!

  6. Scott 20 April, 2009 at 11:12 pm #

    I think you meant a 757-200… Delta doesn’t operate any 767-200s.

    I also think you mixed-up the story a bit. I understood that the Nigerian government was opposed to granting rights for the new flight to Abuja (on a 752) BECAUSE of the perceived ‘scrappy plane’ currently being flown to Lagos (767-300).

    In any event… all I can do is laugh at the idiots who turn away service over the quality of IFE! Little anecdotes such as this remind me why I’m so lucky to live in a civilized nation–no matter how bad we sometimes think our government can be!

  7. RWM 20 April, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    The 767, old? Scandalous!
    Why, the glorious Peoples Airline of Canada still flies these gallant birds from muddy York to London Heathrow. The last one I flew on (in March 2009) even had individual entertainment screens in the seats. My seat, unfortunately, had a hole in the armrest where the button to recline should have been.
    But now that the evil American has been driven out by a progressive Roumanian, I hope to see some nice new Antonov and Ilyushin turboprops winging their way out of Chairman Trudeau International airport.

  8. Mark Pilling 21 April, 2009 at 9:34 am #

    Thanks for the update Scott – especially on the 767s. There’s nothing wrong with the 767 or 757 for that matter on the outside – perfectly serviceable chunks of metal.
    But US carriers have notoriously under-invested in their in-flight product and cabins over the past decade – their financial situation has often left them with little choice.
    What happens then is the gap between these laggards and those able to invest – Asian and Middle East carriers – is very stark.
    Look at the recent Skytrax rankings – not a US carrier among them:

  9. Anthony Rotzler 21 April, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    Yes Mark, I agree with you on the in-flight product of US carriers, but if they want to compete on the international routes something needs to be done.

  10. Al 24 April, 2009 at 2:16 am #

    The 767 (in 200 and 300 series) has been a great work horse for the People’s Airline of Canada. Do a one-hour shuttle Toronto-Montreal, return, then head off to Tampa or Miami, and be back by the dinner hour to prepare for an overnighter to Manchester. And back the following day to blend into another schedule of flights all over again. The 200s are gone to the desert or elsewhere including the Gimli Glider. And the next sharp upswing in fuel prices will probably do in the 300s. The 2-3-2 seating was a heck of lot better than a lot of the sardine-can configurations out there today. So wht’s the minister crabbing about?

  11. Frequent Flier #007 24 April, 2009 at 6:22 am #

    How long will it take Delta Airlines to get it? Thier in-flight entertainment sucks, they are too strick on baggage weight, and their food could be likened to a junk fast food. Nigerians will forgive Delta for its short-comings, but on their strickness on baggage weight? No way Jose! I will not be surprised to see them lose passengers and eventually stop flying to Nigeria all together. I fly the LOS-ATL route at least 4 times a year on Delta, but I have just about had it with them.

    I hope the Minister or the NIgerian government aren’t grand-standing on their complaint about Delta. But if history is anything to go by, I won’t be surprised to read the papers some day only to find that the MInister is being probed in connection with…….Well, the rest doesn’t require that much of an imagination.

  12. AviationGuy 26 April, 2009 at 8:07 pm #

    Some of you clearly have no idea how airlines allocate aircraft. First of all there is no such thing as an airline sending their newest or oldest aircraft on any particular route. To maintain flexibility, airlines continuous rotate all aircraft within any particular class (so today DL may send a 767-300ER to Lagos that is 8 yrs old and tomorrow it could be ship that is 15 years old – that goes for any airline). Next, airlines allocate their resources based on demand. Demand would include total seat capacity, business seat capacity, range of aircraft, and cost to operate. Given that DL has a very limited number of 777s in their fleet, there is NO way DL could even consider sending one to Lagos. The 763ER has more than enough range and capacity to serve that route, DL can’t swap out a 777 from there JNB route, because a 767 can’t make the trip without a stop. So, to put this in simple terms Nigeria will be served by 767-300ER or 757-200ER aircraft by Delta or they won’t be served at all. There is no other option. There is a huge possibilty that DL will update there 767 fleet to include IFE systems throughout coach, but that decision will be made fleet wide for all international destinations, they cannot add it to a few aircraft to send to Nigeria (because as stated before aircraft are continuously rotated and the aircraft flying to Lagos today might be in Madrid tomorrow and in Honolulu the day after.

    Furthermore, there is no reason to deny an airline the right to operate a route because of the type of aircraft (unless their are operational issues) because if the level of service does not meet customer expectations they simply wont purchase tickets on that airline, for those that do purchase they are saying they want the service that is offered. If the customer base willing to purchase that service is to low the airline will adjust the service itself or withdraw.

  13. Stan Barlolw 26 April, 2009 at 10:54 pm #

    First DL, sold off all their 767-200′s. Most 767-300′s are gone too. Their 767-300ER’s are in a major update program. Who does Nigeria think they are? They are darn lucky the World’s largest carrier wants to fly there. The country needs a lot more updating than any of DL 1479 operated aircraft!!!

  14. AviationGuy 27 April, 2009 at 3:05 am #


    Thanks. I knew Delta had removed all the 767-200s from their fleet, however I thought they were in storage. But because of your comment I checked and all have been sold except for the “spirit of Delta” which was was the first 767 Delta ever received and was actually purchased by the employees as a gift to the airline, it is stored in ATL and has been converted into a museum piece, so for all practical purposes they have sold all their 767-200s.

    I am shocked they found a market for those birds. Kind of sad that they were able to sell the 767-200s and all those L1011s rot in the desert [well except for the occasional TV purchase when they buy the frame to blow it up :( ]

  15. jbzoom 27 April, 2009 at 5:30 am #

    Aviation Guy misunderstands the way airlines assign aircraft. Often, for a near-daily service to a long-haul international destination one plane gets assigned until it needs enough maintenance to force a change. And the “worst” aircraft – those most in need of cabin refresh, IFE update, etc., are typically allocated to routes where the competition is perceived as weakest. Deltas 767′s product is way below international long-haul standards in almost every measurable way, but until they face head-to-head competition (for example from Arik) or possibly even more richly deserved verbal thrashings and bad publicity Delta will go on delivering it.

  16. CoachBoy 27 April, 2009 at 8:19 pm #

    DL’s pitiful Y product is why I switch to BA for my ATL-LON runs. That being said, to use one of DL’s precious few 777′s on this run is a waste, unless cargo revenues justify it. If the 763′s were oversold I’d understand, but even at 80% load factor, there is no reason to upgrade the equipment. If you need an incremental upgrade, use a 764. A 777 is overkill. The Nigerian gov’t thinks it can run an airline better than Delta can. There’s a reason Virgin Nigeria shut down, and no one takes Arik seriously. I just think the minister of trasport is getting his nose bent out of shape because JNB is getting the LR’s.

  17. AviationGuy 27 April, 2009 at 8:45 pm #


    I understand very well how airlines assign aircraft. You are the one who is clueless! Major airlines like Delta DO NOT assign specific aircraft to fly certain routes (except in certain situations where a particular airplane is required for operational reasons – ie a particular route requires winglets because of the distance of the route and not all aircraft in that fleet have winglets). But back to the point at hand. The ATL-LOS flight is roughly 12hrs. Considering that the flight departs ATL daily at 3:00p and returns at 5:45pm. It takes 2 aircraft to operate that route (this is the norm on long-haul international flights. Based on your assumption that airlines dedicate specific aircraft for specific routes, Delta would be parking a fully-functional revenue generating aircraft in Atlanta for roughly 21 hrs everyday waiting to depart for LOS. No way! That is too much money lost on that route alone, not to mention all the other long-haul international routes that would fit that category. They would be bankrupt. In reality, when that aircraft comes back from LOS, it will be sent back out that evening to operate different international route. Then the next LOS flight would operate with a different aircraft. This is how the large airlines get operational effeciencies, the larger the fleet and the more similiarities between fleet types the more flexibility they have in scheduling and utilizing aircraft.

  18. Milan 28 April, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    Regardless of country where you fly you should treat all passenger in the same way! However, it is the fact that all American carriers have a lower standards then European carriers. So, why now nailing the Nigerian bureaucrat if they want something better for their people or in general not only for Nigerians but on those flights also seat some foreigners perhaps some Americans, Canadians etc. If Emirates or Virgin can offer much better service why the heck DL cannot? Why DL will send B757-200 to Nigeria, explanation: because they do not have sufficient numbers of passengers to fill the B767 or A330. However, they want a piece of the pie in that case you have to pay it.

  19. Y 29 April, 2009 at 3:54 am #

    Some of your comments really amaze me. I leave in Atlanta & fly to lagos at least once a month. I must say the DL flights to/from lagos is the most crappy flight (considering average flight time of 12 – 13hrs) a person could ever have. Unless of course you are one of the unfortunate who do not know any better about proper international flight services. I have since stopped using DL unless under absolutely unavoidablecircumstances.
    Where on earth do you pay for drinks on an international flight? Never knew airlines still used the large screen entertainment systems… 2009? On a 12 hr flight? For the ignorant (many of you had made earlier comments), Nigeria is a big market for major International Airlines. Dont get carried away with the news (majority negative) you hear about the country. Just as on the streets of NYC, L.A. or ATL you have the good & bad citizens.
    By the way just read in the papers DL will be introducing the 777-200ER on the ATL-LOS route effective July 2, 2009.

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