West African Airways Corporation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
West African Airways Corporation
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded1946 (1946)
Commenced operationsOctober 1947 (1947-10)
Ceased operations30 September 1958 (1958-09-30)
Focus cities
Parent companyGovernment of Nigeria (68%)
HeadquartersIkeja, Nigeria
A WAAC Boeing 377 Stratocruiser in 1958.

West African Airways Corporation, or WAAC for short, was an airline that operated from 1946 to 1958, jointly owned by the governments of Britain's four west African colonies, namely The Gambia, the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.[2][3] The carrier was headquartered at the Airways House in Ikeja, Nigeria, and operated from its hub in Lagos Airport.[4]:38 It was dissolved on 30 September 1958,[5] after all the shareholder countries but Nigeria set up their own national airlines following their independence. As the sole remaining major stockholder of the airline, the government of Nigeria continued to operate it as WAAC Nigeria,[6] which was eventually renamed Nigeria Airways and became the flag carrier of the country.


Prospections for the development of aviation in the British West African Territory trace as back as 1944 when, following World War II, Lord Swinton ordered the first studies. The British Ministry of Civil Aviation supported the Sanford Committee, which was established to that particular end, and both entities recommended the formation of the West African Air Transport Authority. The order-in-council enacting the formation of the West African Air Transport Authority (ATA) was signed by King George VI on 15 May 1946 (1946-05-15).[7]

The origins of West African Airways Corporation can be traced back to 1946, when it was established by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC),[8]:39–40 and economically supported by four West African British colonies, Nigeria being the major shareholder (68%), followed by the Gold Coast (29.5%), Sierra Leone (2%), and The Gambia holding the balance.[4]:38 It began operations in October 1947,[9] following the delivery of its first aircraft, an event that took place on 14 September 1947.[10] The De Havilland Dove aircraft inaugurated WAAC's first scheduled service from Lagos to Calabar during October 1947.[11]

The company was aimed at providing the British West Africa with air transport facilities, to connecting it with Dakar and Khartoum in order to provide passengers with a gateway to the Americas and the Middle East, respectively, and to operating feeder flights that connected with the Europe-bound BOAC Hermes services at Accra, Lagos and Kano.[4]:38[9] The close ties with BOAC were evidenced by the fact that WAAC actually acted as an agent for the British state carrier in Nigeria and the Gold Coast.[4]:39

On 31 March 1948 WAAC became responsible for operation of the inter-Colonial West African coastal services and extended operation to Freetown, Bathurst and Dakar. The airline began a Lagos-Khartoum service with Bristol 170s in April 1950. This was suspended in August 1953.[12]

WAAC became very popular in the early 1950s for offering at least four Bristol Freighter-operated second-class services at discounted airfares, cheaper than any other mean of transportation. Two of them were the “Coastal Flyer”, that covered the 250 miles (400 km) between Accra and Lagos in 1¾ hours for £4.00 at 1951 prices, and the “Hausa Flyer” that covered the Accra–Lagos–IbadanJos–Kano route, for which the Lagos–Kano leg took 4 hours —against an almost two-day journey by train— and was £3 (1951 prices) cheaper than the train.[4]:38

As the member states gained Commonwealth status from the United Kingdom, they set up their own carriers—Ghana Airways, Sierra Leone Airways, and Gambia Air Shuttle. WAAC was formally dissolved in 1958, as Nigeria was the only state eventually having a participation in the airline.[13][14] WAAC assets and liabilities were inherited by WAAC (Nigeria), that operated as “Nigerian Airways” effective 1 October 1958.[6][15] WAAC (Nigeria) was later rebranded Nigeria Airways.


The WAAC livery consisted of a green cheatline bordered by thinner gold lines. An airborne green elephant named Skypower,[nb 1] was painted in a golden circle background at both sides, in the forward part of each aircraft.[18]


Following is a list of destinations served by WAAC, grouped by country served. Each destination is provided with the city served, the name of the airport and both its International Air Transport Association three-letter code (IATA airport code) and its International Civil Aviation Organization four-letter code (ICAO airport code). Current names have been adopted wherever possible.

City Airport Code Airport Name Refs
Tiko TKC FKKC Tiko Airport [19]
 Ivory Coast
Abidjan ABJ DIAP Port Bouet Airport [1]
Bathurst BJL GBYD Yundum International Airport [1]
Accra ACC DGAA Kotoka International Airport [1]
Kumasi KMS DGSI Kumasi Airport [20]
Takoradi TKD DGTK Takoradi Airport [20]
Tamale TML DGLE Tamale Airport [20]
Monrovia ROB GLRB Robertsfield [1]
Benin BNI DNBE Benin Airport [19]
Bida DNBI Bida Airstrip [21]
Calabar CBQ DNCA Calabar Airport [19]
Enugu ENU DNEN Enugu Airport [19]
Gusau QUS DNGU Gusau Airstrip [22]
Ibadan IBA DNIB Ibadan Airport [19]
Jos JOS DNJO Jos Airport [19]
Kaduna KAD DNKA Kaduna Airport [22]
Kano KAN DNKN Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport [19]
Lagos LOS DNMM Murtala Muhammed International Airport [1]
Maiduguri MIU DNMA Maiduguri International Airport [22]
Makurdi MDI DNMK Makurdi Airport [19]
Oshogbo DNOS Osogbo Airstrip [22]
Port Harcourt PHC DNPO Port Harcourt International Airport [19]
Sokoto SKO DNSO Sadiq Abubakar III International Airport [22]
Yola YOL DNYO Yola Airport [22]
Zaria ZAR DNZA Zaria Airport [22]
Dakar DKR GOOY Yoff Airport [1]
 Sierra Leone
Freetown FNA GFLL Lungi International Airport [1]
El Geneina EGN HSGN Geneina Airport [21]
Khartoum KRT HSSS Khartoum International Airport [21]


WAAC was the first airline in operating Marathons commercially.[23] The corporation operated the following aircraft throughout its history:

Accidents and incidents[edit]

According to Aviation Safety Network, the airline experienced two accidents/incidents throughout its history, one of them leading to fatalities.[26]

Fatal accidents[edit]

  • 5 February 1955: A Bristol 170 Freighter 21E, registration VR-NAD, that was operating a domestic scheduled Enugu Airport–Calabar Airport passenger service, crashed into a hillside 84 kilometres (52.2 mi) northwest of Calabar after it uncontrollably descended from about 4,000 feet (1,200 m). All 13 occupants of the aircraft lost their lives.[27] Structural failure of the left-hand side mainplane was officially determined to be the cause of the accident.[28]

Non-fatal hull-losses[edit]

  • 27 July 1951: A Bristol 170 Freighter 21E, registered VR-NAX, landed short of the runway at Kaduna Airport.[29]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The flying elephant was an icon of air transport all through West Africa.[16] It was adopted by Nigeria Airways as its logo, whose name appears in an article regarding this airline.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "WEST AFRICAN AIRWAYS CORPORATION – TIME TABLES, FARES & RATES, INFORMATION (Effective 5 January 1958)". Airline Timetable Images. p. 5. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  2. ^ "COMMONWEALTH AIR SERVICES" (pdf). Flight: 265. 27 August 1954. Retrieved 5 August 2011. An all-British fleet of ten Doves and five Bristol 170s is operated by West African Airways Corporation, which was formed by the governments of Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierre Leone and Gambia in 1946.
  3. ^ "CIVIL AVIATION... – AIRLINE FOR GHANA?" (pdf). Flight: 288. 1 March 1957. Retrieved 3 August 2011. Until the formation of their own airline, the Gold Coast Government and the governments of Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Gambia will continue their participation in West African Airways.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Geoffrey Dorman (13 July 1951). "WEST AFRICAN WAYFARINGS" (pdf). Flight: 38&nbsp, –&#32, 40. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  5. ^ Nigeria Year Book 1962. Daily Times of Nigeria. 1962. p. 55.
  6. ^ a b "WORLD AIRLINE DIRECTORY – West African Airways Co. (Nigeria) Ltd" (pdf). Flight: 557. 17 April 1959. Retrieved 5 August 2011. West African Airways Co. (Nigeria) Ltd.—WAAC, an associate of BOAC, was formed in 1958 to take over the Nigerian operations of West African Airways Corporation which had been founded in 1946 by the West African territories of Nigeria, Gold Coast (now Ghana), Sierra Leone and the Gambia.
  7. ^ Guttery (1998), p. 148.
  8. ^ "United we fall, divided we fall" (pdf). Flight International: 38&nbsp, –&#32, 40. 7 September 1985. Retrieved 5 August 2011. West African Airways Corporation, for example, was set up in 1946 by BOAC, and comprised the four British colonies of Nigeria, Gold Coast (Ghana), Sierra Leone, and Gambia.
  9. ^ a b c d "CIVIL AVIATION NEWS..." (pdf). Flight: 580. 11 May 1950. Retrieved 5 August 2011. During March, 2,071 fare-paying passengers travelled in Doves and Wayfarers on the internal network of West African Airways Corporation, which connects with the B.O.A.C. West Africa/U.K. services. This is a record total for any one month since West African Airways Corporation started operations in October, 1947.
  10. ^ "CIVIL AVIATION NEWS – WEST AFRICAN AIRWAYS REPORT" (pdf). Flight: 280. 10 March 1949. Retrieved 5 August 2011. Preparation of an annual report for the year 1946-47 was deferred since in that first year only preliminary work in the West African Airways Corporation was possible and the first aircraft was not delivered until September 14th, 1947.
  11. ^ Stroud, 1962, p. 563
  12. ^ Stroud, 1962, p. 564
  13. ^ John Stroud (22 August 1958). "Air Transport in the Commonwealth" (pdf). Flight: 280&nbsp, –&#32, 282. Retrieved 5 August 2011. This autumn West African Airways Corporation, which was formed by the four West African territories of Nigeria, Gold Coast, Sierra Leone and the Gambia and has its headquarters in Nigeria, will be re-organized as a company jointly owned by the Nigerian Government, B.O.A.C. and the Elder Dempster shipping group.
  14. ^ Jeffrey Christopher Aguero (24 March 2006). "The Organizational Ecology of Foundings and Failures in the African Airline Industry, 1933-2005". Archived from the original on 6 June 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  15. ^ "AIRLINES OF THE WORLD – Nigerian Airways" (pdf). Flight: 505. 8 April 1960. Retrieved 6 August 2011. Nigerian Airways, or West African Airways Co (Nigeria) Ltd, is an associate of BOAC and commenced operations on October 1, 1958, taking over the Nigerian services formerly operated by West African Airways Corporation, which it succeeds.
  16. ^ John Seekings (31 October 1958). "Where Elephants Fly – The story of Nigeria's airline" (pdf). Flight: 685&nbsp, –&#32, 688.
  17. ^ James Brooke (3 August 1987). "Nigeria's Flying Elephant". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 August 2011. Painted on the tails of Nigeria Airways jets is a fanciful character named Skypower - a flying elephant.
  18. ^ "FROM ALL QUARTERS – A Marathon for Africa" (pdf). Flight: 332. 23 March 1951. Retrieved 6 August 2011. Before the ceremony, the Marathon—attired in the green and gold of W.A.A.C.'s livery, and fitted with 18 seats for highdensity traffic in West Africa—carried a full complement of passengers on a demonstration flight.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i "WEST AFRICAN AIRWAYS CORPORATION – TIME TABLES, FARES & RATES, INFORMATION (Effective 5 January 1958)". Airline Timetable Images. pp. 8&nbsp, –&#32, 9. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  20. ^ a b c d "WEST AFRICAN AIRWAYS CORPORATION – TIME TABLES, FARES & RATES, INFORMATION (Effective 5 January 1958)". Airline Timetable Images. p. 11. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  21. ^ a b c "WEST AFRICAN AIRWAYS CORPORATION – TIMETABLE (Effective 15 June 1952)". Airline Timetable Images. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g "WEST AFRICAN AIRWAYS CORPORATION – TIME TABLES, FARES & RATES, INFORMATION (Effective 5 January 1958)". Airline Timetable Images. pp. 6&nbsp, –&#32, 7. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  23. ^ "Commercial Aircraft of the World – Handley Page" (PDF). Flight: 805. 18 November 1960. Retrieved 28 January 2012. First commercial operator of Marathons was West African Airways Corporation...
  24. ^ "CIVIL AVIATION" (pdf). Flight: 524. 24 April 1953. Retrieved 5 August 2011. The fleet operated by West African Airways Corporation on its 5,000 miles of domestic and international routes is made up entirely of British-built aircraft: nine de Havilland Doves, five Bristol 170s and—recently acquired—six Handley Page Marathons.
  25. ^ "CIVIL AVIATION" (pdf). Flight: 681. 28 November 1952. Retrieved 6 August 2011. MARATHONS IN SERVICE: The first airline operator to use the Handley Page (Reading) Marathon (four D.H. Gipsy Queen 70s) is West African Airways Corporation, which opened a Marathon service on November 1st between Accra and Lagos.
  26. ^ "Accident record for West African Airways Corporation". Aviation Safety Network. 28 November 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  27. ^ Accident description for VR-NAD at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 4 August 2011.
  28. ^ "CIVIL AVIATION – W.A.A.C. ACCIDENT REPORT" (pdf). Flight: 29. 1 July 1955. Retrieved 4 August 2011. The report confirms that the accident was caused by structural failure of the port mainplane, which was found ¾ mile from the main wreckage. Examination of the wreckage indicated that loss of the port wing followed failure of the front-spar bottom boom, and that failure of rivets attaching web to boom preceded the boom fracture.
  29. ^ Accident description for VR-NAX at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 4 August 2011.


  • Guttery, Ben R. (1998). Encyclopedia of African Airlines. Jefferson, North Carolina 28640: Mc Farland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-7864-0495-7.
  • Stroud, John (1962). Annals of British and Commonwealth Air Transport. Putnam & Company Limited.

Further reading[edit]