PARIS 2009: Minister wades into Virgin Nigeria brand talks

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Nigerian transport minister Babatunde Omotoba is to visit Virgin Atlantic in London to discuss the UK carrier's decision not to extend Virgin Nigeria's access to the Virgin brand.

Last year Virgin Atlantic, which owns 49% of Virgin Nigeria, outlined plans to sell its stake in the Nigerian carrier. Earlier this month it emerged that Virgin Atlantic was not extending Virgin Nigeria's brand rights.

Omotoba is attending the Paris Air Show to formalise Nigerian regional carrier Afrijet's order for four ATR 72-500s. Speaking to ATI at the show, he said: "We are going from here to London to speak with Virgin Atlantic."

He adds that the decision to pull the Virgin brand "does have implications" for the services which Virgin Atlantic receives in Nigeria.

"We want to find a soft landing for Virgin Nigeria. We have given them so much. The Government is intervening to make sure the two companies come together to solve their differences," he says.

Virgin Nigeria is to rebrand by 7 July. New names under consideration include 'Nigerian Eagle' and 'Air Nigeria'.