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Nigeria Set To Choose Ethiopian Airlines As Core Investor Of New Flag Carrier - THISDAY

SEPTEMBER 19, 2022

The soon-to-be-created Nigeria Air will be the country's new flag carrier.

Nigeria has confirmed that Ethiopian Airlines has been chosen as the core investor and partner for the country's new flag carrier. Nigeria Air has been in the works for a while now and has slowly been approaching a full launch, pending support from partners. Ethiopian is Africa's largest carrier and has shown a willingness to invest in new startups recently.

Ready to take off?

According to ThisDay, Nigeria's federal government has formally chosen Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian) as a partner for the long-awaited Nigeria Air. The deal includes a 49% equity share for the airline, joined by 5% from the government since the project is set to be private-public. Notably, Ethiopian is sticking to its policy of not investing cash into a new business.

Instead, the airline will leverage its technical prowess, an abundance of aircraft, and management skills to establish Nigeria's first flag carrier in years. While yet to be formally confirmed, an initial pool of pilots is set to arrive in Addis Ababa for basic training for certification on the Boeing 737NG.

Ethiopian Airlines has invested in several carriers across Africa in recent years. Photo:  Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia Commons

Acording to one source close to the Ministry of Aviation, Ethiopian was the only airline that bid to lead the new flag carrier. Despite that, the choice was likely a good one, adding that,

"Ethiopian Airlines has the equipment needed for the start-up of the new national carrier, Nigeria Air. It has many Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft, which would be the equipment that would be deployed with additional deployment of few Boeing B737 NG aircraft. The airline is most prepared to support the Nigerian government actualise its national carrier ambition."

Finally happening

Nigeria Air was first announced in the summer of 2018 at the Farnborough Air Show but suspended a few months later in November. Fast forward four years, and the carrier was once again on the radar, with several players, including Qatar Airways, rumored to run the new operation.

In June, the airline received its Air Transport License (ATL) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), a precursor to the all-important Air Operators Certification (AOC). The next step was finding a partner to run the airline, which is now reportedly completed with Ethiopian Airlines' appointment.

The next few months will tell us more in terms of the airline's timeline for takeoff. With a fleet of Boeing 737s and Dash 8s, we can expect a domestic and regional focus in the initial months, a market that has no shortage of travelers in Nigeria. Keep an eye out for this up-and-coming carrier in the near future.

NCAA in the spotlight

All eyes were on the Nigerian government and the NCAA this week as Azman Air lost its ATL due to failure to pay dues and operational issues. However, after 24 hours of outcry, the carrier signed an MoU with the government and was handed a five-year extension on its ATL to continue operations.

For now, the Nigerian market is only set to get more competitive as foreign carriers, and homegrown ones compete for a share.


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