The Federal Government has unveiled Nigeria Air, a national carrier. The Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika performed the ceremony at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on Friday.
Thirty aircraft are expected to form the fleet of Nigeria Air in the next five years. However, only one aircraft has arrived.
Senator Hadi Sirika insists that the national carrier would be private-sector driven with the Federal Government holding just a 5% stake while private owners would hold the remaining 95% share in the new airline.
Ethiopian Airlines holds a 49 percent stake in the new airline.
Meanwhile, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had faulted plans by the outgoing Sirika to launch the operations of Nigeria Air despite a restraining court order on the project.
AON lawyers wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari asking him to stop the minister.
However, Sirika insists that he has not violated the court order. According to him, an opportunity was given to domestic airlines to participate in the bidding process for the ownership of the national carrier but none of them met the standard.
Although Sirika had previously said Nigeria Air would commence operation on May 29, 2023, he told journalists that it will commence operation when a second aircraft arrives. But, he did not state the exact date the second aircraft would arrive.
He also said an application has been made to the Civil Aviation Authority for a grant of an Air Transport License for Nigeria Air Limited to operate scheduled and non-scheduled passenger and cargo services within the airport.
The Nigeria Air comes 20 years after the Nigeria Airways, Nigeria’s former national carrier stopped operating.
But the minister has assured that the airline would be sustained.
Meanwhile, the management of Ethiopian Airlines has said that it is targeting an investment base of about $1bn for Nigeria Air.
The Chief Commercial Officer of the airline Lemma Gudeta while speaking to journalists assured Nigerians of efficiency in service delivery when Nigeria Air commences operation.