Nigeria Air: Why a Competitor should not run the new airline

The Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON and other stakeholders in the aviation industry have continued to oppose the yet to take off National carrier, Nigeria Air especially with the choice of Ethiopian Airlines as strategic investor.

They are of the belief that, the National carrier is an airline by certain individuals using the federal government as a face.

Worried about this development, the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation invited the Minister of Aviation Senator, Hadi Sirika last week to answer some vexed issues regarding the new carrier.

The Report

Just about sixty-nine days to the end of the year 2022 when the National carrier, Nigeria Air will start operations as announced by the Federal Government, opposition to the entrance of this new airline has continued to gather momentum.

The opposition became louder recently with the choice of Ethiopian airlines as the strategic investor holding the largest share of 49% in the Nigeria Air.

While government is to hold 5% share and 46% for Nigerian investors, a recent poll conducted by an aviation firm showed that, 75% were in favour of a National Carrier, 93% say foreign investor should not hold the largest share and certainly not a competitor like Ethiopian airline.

Spokesman for the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo says there is nothing Nigerian in the national carrier but the brining onboard a foreign carrier to decimate the Nigerian market.

He emphasized that, if the local airlines were given the needed support by government like the Ethiopian government had done for it airline, the need for a national carrier would not have arisen.

“We do not see this as the best thing happening, this is not genuine and transparency here we must continue to ask for it”.

Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Mr. Nnolim Nnaji during a meeting with the Minister of Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika was emphatic that, an alliance with a strategic investor who is also a competitor with a stronger footing will not be good for Nigeria.

“They are our competitor and we are offloading our BASA to them, how do you think that tomorrow we can be better when Ethiopia has taken over the industry, You are selling our rights”, says Nnaji.

“Mr. Chairman, we went through an international bid and people participated and they participated and they won”..Sirika.

Two airline operators Mr. Roland Iyayi and Captain Ibrahim Mshelia stressed that, till date the process of a national carrier had been shrouded in secrecy and  giving an unfettered access to Ethiopian airlines who had been eyeing the Nigerian market will be a disservice to Nigerians.

“This is the worse thing that can ever happen to the Nigerian industry, the process till date is not transparent and the so-called Nigerian investors MRS and SAHCO, they are not really investors..Iyayi.

“Ethiopian airlines should be cancelled, it is an embarrassment for us as a nation with such a potential”…Mshelia.

Other reasons given by stakeholders include that, the project has a wrong foundation, a hidden agenda based on the fact that only Ethiopian airline bidded for the project among others.

An aviation consultant, Simon Tumba says, “How can Nigeria air consolidate the Africa market with ET being the technical partner as a major shareholder, how is that possible?”.

President, ART, Dr. Gbenga Olowo says, “Just regard the airline as another airline, remove the government and national signal”.

According to the stakeholders, this project has a vested interest, a personal interest that has nothing to do with patriotism or national interest and therefore called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to have a rethink on the project and the strategic investor for the overall good of Nigerians.

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