ADC Boeing 737-200 with registration 5N-BEE at PHIA, Omagwa picture from

MANY people would remember ADC Airlines but once it is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the series of unfortunate incidents and accidents that trailed its wake and became an integral reason for the airline’s exit from the Nigerian airspace.

Apart from older aviation stakeholders and enthusiasts, a lot of people find it hard to believe there was a time when the airline was the toast of all, controlling over 40-45% of the Nigerian air traffic and was even the first airline to be quoted on the stock exchange in Nigeria.

The airline was indeed the people’s choice and it felt destined for greatness…well until the major crash of 2006.

ADC Airlines was owned by the Aviation Development Company plc. a Nigerian company incorporated in  December 1984 primarily to provide support services to the aviation industry both in Nigeria and in the West African sub region. These support services included the provision of operational support to private and corporate aircraft owners, provision of technical crew and airfreight brokerage.

ADC Boeing 737-200 with registration 5N-BEE with picture from
ADC Boeing 737-200 with registration 5N-BEE with picture from

In 1990, Aviation Development Company plc. set up ADC Airlines to provide services and received its license to operate schedule passenger services. ADC Airlines commenced flight operations on 1st January 1991.

By 1996 and at the height of its operations, ADC Airlines operated 7 aircraft; 3 Boeing 727-200, 3 BAC 1-11, 1 Boeing 707 (Cargo) and 1 ATR42-320 and commanded 42% of the domestic flying passengers.

In 1994 Aviation Development Company decided to transform into a public liability company trading its stock at the Nigerian Stock Exchange it succeeded to sell stakes to 12,000 shareholders becoming the first airline in Nigeria and indeed in Africa to be listed on the Stock Exchange.

ADC Airlines BAC1-11 with registration number 5N-BAA
ADC Airlines BAC1-11 with registration number 5N-BAA before the airline changed its aircraft livery and restructured

By February 2002, the company had sufficiently restructured its operations and to be in the position to acquire a Boeing 737. It resumed operations on the 15th day of the same month. The airlines had four Boeing 737-200 aircraft in her fleet.

Two years later, the Federal Government of Nigeria designated ADC Airlines as a flag carrier to fly to Europe and several other African countries that was in April 2004.

ADC started by offering domestic services to Calabar, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna and regional services to Monrovia in Liberia, Freetown in Sierra Leone, Conakry in Guinea, Banjul in Gambia and Accra in Ghana.

As at 2005, ADC airlines operated over 120 flights a week  with services from Abuja to Lagos, Sokoto and Yola, Calabar to Lagos and Port Harcourt; Lagos to Abuja, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Sokoto and Yola, Port Harcourt to Calabar and Lagos; Sokoto to Abuja and Lagos; Yola to Abuja and Lagos

Well things with ADC were never all rosey, until its end as the airline had several Incidents and accidents especially in the 1990s.

In August 1994 and July 1995 two DC-9-31s were written off in non-fatal accidents, both at Monrovia-Sprigs Payne Airport. The last B737-200 crash was what nailed the ADC Airlines. ADC had many accidents in Nigeria involving a B727, in Guinea involving a DC-9, etc. In addition could not afford to meet up with the recapitalization as a result of huge Bank loans, excessive expenditures, high salary for the management staff.

Aviation Development Company (ADC) Flight 86

On 7 November 1996 a Boeing 727-231 Flight 86 en route from Port Harcourt crashed into the lagoon in Lagos 30 km from Lagos airport while trying to avoid a collision with another aircraft flying out of Lagos airport. Flown by decorated former Nigeria Airways captain, Captain Dafe. On 29 July 1997 a BAC One-Eleven 203AE landing at Calabar overshot the runway and an engine caught fire. There was one fatality.

ADC Airlines Flight 53

On 29 October 2006 an ADC passenger plane, crashed near the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Local radio called on doctors to rush to the scene. One hundred and four people were on board the Boeing 737-200, which was traveling to Sokoto, and hospitals report seven survivors were found – six in a stable condition. The spiritual head of Nigerian Muslims, Sultan Maccido of Sokoto, died in the crash. His son, who is a senator, the deputy governor of Sokoto state and at least one other senator were also victims.

The airline was suspended by the Nigerian government until further notice after that crash but that was not all of it as worse was to come.

Planned restructuring of the aviation industry saw Federal government set a deadline of 30 April 2007 for all airlines operating in the country to re-capitalize or be grounded, in an effort to ensure better services and safety.

ADC, due to suspension received, was not flying but the operators were trying to get back however it really couldn’t be part of the recapitalization  and thus became one of the seven airlines that failed to meet the deadline and as a result would not be allowed fly in Nigeria’s airspace with effect from April 30, 2007.

Till date ADC has not found its way back.


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