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African Airlines

Company Type



Theater of Operations

Africa and some of Europe, South America and Australia

Parent Companies

  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Somali Airlines
  • Nigerian Airlines
  • A few smaller airlines

Associated Company

African Airship Association

African Airlines is a multinational corporation set up to provide cheap and reliable air travel to most of Africa. The company is the largest airline in Africa, is the one of the largest in the world and the largest operator of rigid airships. It operates services to most of the world and is one of the most reliable. It operates piston engined aircraft, airships and a few turboprop aircraft.


Both the West African Union and the Confederation of African Marxist Countries had been operating combined airline services since the early 2000's but the idea that would eventually become African Airlines originated during a trip by Ethiopia's foreign minister to Nigeria in 2003. The African Airship Association had been making small airships since the late 90's and the Nigerian government suggested that this new multinational airline use their products to make up the basis of the air fleet of the new airline.

After approaching the Association the two ambassadors went on a tour of Africa, gathering up support for the idea and proposing the assimilation of several smaller countries airlines into the organisation. In late 2005 the plans for the organisation were nearing completion and the first order for two airships was placed. The organisation took its first fare earning flight in mid 2006 departing from Addis Ababa airport and arriving at Lagos airport in a thirty eight hour trip (The previous time for a fare earning vehicle had been 100 hours in a chartered bus). Following the success of the first flight and the cheapness of the tickets available people flooded to the airports to experience this new form of travel. In addition to the airship transport African Airlines introduced a far more expensive flight program using turboprop aircraft and a slightly more expensive program which used piston engined aircraft.

With the success of their first two airships the company ordered ten more to be based on the same design to be delivered between early 2007 and January 2008. In October 2007 with seven airships in service the company made a massive decision, it ordered five airships for intercontinental travel to be based on the German Graf Zeppelin and while only three of these beasts were delivered and they were all smaller than specified the new class of airship was reliable, easy to maintain and could still carry a larger amount of passengers than the previous class. The latest stage of the development of the airship in Africa came in mid 2009 when African Airlines ordered a brand new prototype airship to be inflated with Helium and be larger than both of the classes currently in service. In tradition to their usual policy of building small the African Airship Association built the ship to be only slightly larger than the previous three but to have enough space for nearly fifty more passengers, it was delivered in March 2010 and will be commissioned in May. The Airline currently operates 15 Class 1 Airships, seven Class 2 Airships/Small Zeppelins, one Class 3 Airship, eight Douglas DC-6's Piston Engined Airliners, four Vickers Viscount Turboprop Airliners and one Douglas DC-9 Jetliner.


African Airlines operates a number of passenger and cargo routes across Africa and some of the world, it has airships traveling to most of the world and turboprops to the remaining first world countries most flights originate from one of two airports, Addis Ababa Airport in Ethiopia and Lagos Airport in Nigeria which means that to get to some places people have to change flights up to three times. The following routes are operated by African Airlines (The aircraft operating them are noted in brackets):

  • Addis Ababa - Asmara (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Addis Ababa - Massawa (Class 1 Airship)
  • Addis Ababa - Djibouti (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Addis Ababa - Hargeisa (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Addis Ababa - Garowe (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Addis Ababa - Juba (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Addis Ababa - Al Fashr (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Addis Ababa - Skyros (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Addis Ababa - Zanzibar City (Class 1 Airship)
  • Addis Ababa - Francistown (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Addis Ababa - Lagos (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Addis Ababa - Jervis Bay (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Addis Ababa - Krasnoyarsk (Class 3 Airship, Douglas DC-9)
  • Lagos - Addis Ababa (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Lagos - Bamenda (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Lagos - Lomé (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Lagos - Dakar (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Lagos - Yamoussoukro (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Lagos - Accra (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Lagos - Bissau (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Lagos - El Aaiún (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Lagos - Nador (Class 1 Airship, Douglas DC-6)
  • Lagos - Vaduz (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Lagos - Dublin (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Lagos - Berlin (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Lagos - Trondheim (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Lagos - Sao Paulo (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Lagos - Nueva Gerona (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)
  • Lagos - St. John's (Class 2 Airship, Vickers Viscount)

Aircraft Operated

Class 1 Airship

The class 1 was the first major production by the African Airship Association, it is most commonly used on internal flights in Africa and a few trips to other short haul destinations. It has a capacity of fifty passengers that are carried in the gondola under the air bags and is powered by five Peugeot engines from Nigeria giving it a top speed of 80 Mph. It is the smallest of the three airships in service but is the cheapest to build and maintain.

Class 2 Airship/Small Zeppelin

The class 2 was originally conceived as a class of 5 airships that would have a passenger capacity of 100 and be capable of traveling to other continents on one tank of fuel. Similar in size to the USS Akron but filled with Hydrogen the Class 2 are the second largest airship in service and are used on most of the intercontinental flights to and from Africa. They are powered by five turbocharged Peugeot engines that develop 130% of the power output of the previous class which allows the Class 2 to maintain the 80 Mph speed despite being larger. While only three of the originals were made five others were ordered from the New Zeppelin Company in Prussia with BMW engines replacing the Peugeot ones.

Class 3 Airships

The Class 3 is the newest and largest of the airship classes, only one has been ordered so far and it is radically different to the other 2 classes due to the fact that it is inflated by Helium. It can carry 150 people and is powered by seven Peugeot engines allowing it to develop 87 Mph despite its 10% larger size and the fact that Helium is heavier than Hydrogen.

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