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Nigeria's jet set: How the super-rich travel

NIGERIA JETNigerians have spent $6.5bn on private jets - the BBC visits one in Lagos

Nigeria's rich elite are increasingly buying private jets to avoid flying on commercial airlines, reports the BBC's Tomi Oladipo from Lagos.

"There's an average of nine aircrafts fixed here in the hangar, " says Peter de Waal of ExecuJet Aviation Nigeria, looking across at a line of sleek jets, as a team of engineers works on them.

ExecuJet provides a hangar and is authorised by major aviation companies to provide maintenance services for business aircrafts, attesting to the rapid growth of the private aircraft industry in Nigeria.

"Maintenance was done in Europe and the United States, but our services here can help save time and an enormous cost, " Mr De Waal told the BBC.

Travelling on Nigeria's commercial airlines, even in business class, can be problematic, with frequent delays and rerouting causing an inconvenience for everyone, including those for whom time is money.

This, with the added exclusivity, has made the option of bespoke air travel a popular one for the super-rich.

"It is difficult to estimate the exact number of private jets in Nigeria because the majority are under foreign registries, " says Rady Fahmy, the executive director of the African Business Aviation Association.

"Aircraft in Nigeria, and most of Africa, are owned by individuals who are businessmen and women, " he says.

"This is in contrast to North America and Europe where the account is usually under corporate ownership.

"The choice to put it under individual's name is due to financing requirements."

'To owner's taste'

Most of the jet owners prefer to avoid the spotlight, especially when it comes to discussing their wealth, although within aviation circles it is common knowledge who owns what.

The long-range Bombardier Global Express XRS, worth about $50m (£30m), is preferred by those at the top of the rich list, including Africa's wealthiest businessman Aliko Dangote, oil baroness Folorunsho Alakija, and the mobile phone tycoon Mike Adenuga, who also own both short and long-range business aircraft.

Other common models - ranging from about $57m to $39m - are the Gulfstream G550, Bombardier Challenger 605, and Dassault Falcon 900, with owners ranging from politicians to clergymen.

Mr De Waal makes a quick phone call to a jet owner and I am granted access to a sleek Falcon 900.

The inside of a jet in Lagos, Nigeria (February 2014) A private plane is upholstered according to its owner's tastes

A polished dark wood trim sets the mini-bar apart from the rest of the cream interior with grey leather seats.

The passenger area is divided into several parts, including a general area with four seats, a business meeting area also with seating for four, an enclosed area with a large couch that can be converted into a bed, and a small bathroom at the back of the plane.

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