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The Nigerian State Of Lagos Wants To Launch Its Own Airline - SIMPLY FLYING

FEBRUARY 03, 2024


Only one Nigerian state currently owns an airline.


  •  Lagos state is proposing to establish its own state-owned carrier, becoming the second state in Nigeria to do so.
  •  Plans to build a new airport in Lekki, Lagos, are moving forward, with completion expected by 2025.
  •  Other West and Central African countries are also considering the establishment of state-owned airlines to increase connectivity in their regions.

The state government of Lagos is proposing the establishment of a state-owned carrier to operate passenger flights within Nigeria. This would make it the second state to own and operate a scheduled airline. Furthermore, it is moving forward with plans to build its own airport in Lekki, south-east of Lagos city.

A state-owned carrier for Lagos

Nigeria has one of Africa's largest domestic aviation sectors, with over 11 active scheduled carriers. The West African country sees at least one startup nearly every year. The Federal Government has been trying to set up Nigeria Air, the proposed national carrier, for over five years without success. Now, Lagos, the second-largest state by population, wants to establish its own airline.

This was disclosed by the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, last week during a town hall meeting with various stakeholders. Responding to a query about establishing a state-owned airline, the governor said the plan has been in progress for months. As reported by ch-aviation, Sanwo-Olu said,

"Over the last five months, the Deputy Governor and I have been working to put a concise plan together for the establishment of an airline, but we did not make the plan open because of the need to get adequate knowledge about the operational procedures of airlines."
"The business plan is viable, and there is no issue about financing. The conversation has gone to an advanced stage, but we need to get the proper information on operations before we go ahead to implement the plan."

The state is now looking to receive approval from the federal government and set up operational contingencies for the airline. Currently, Akwa Ibom, in southern Nigeria, is the only state with a state-owned carrier. It owns Ibom Air, which it established in 2019. It has grown to become a trusted airline in Nigeria's domestic aviation sector. Last year, Ibom received the first Airbus A220 owned by a Nigerian airline.

Is State Ownership Good For Airlines?

Some counties have state-owned airlines, while others have airlines in which the government is a shareholder.

Building another airport in Lagos

Lagos' state government is also moving forward with plans to construct a new airport. Lekki-Epe International Airport in the Lagos city of Lekki is expected to have a capacity of up to five million passengers. Last month, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy told The Punch that the state government will "focus on completing ongoing projects across the state in the new year," including constructing the new airport.

While the plans have been discussed for several years, state officials believe the airport could be complete by 2025. The project has also met resistance from local landowners and various other stakeholders. Currently, Lagos Murtala Muhammed Airport (LOS) is the state and country's main international airport. Before the pandemic, it welcomed an average of 7 million passengers annually.

More West African startups in 2023?

The last airline to join Nigeria's domestic market was NG Eagle, which commenced operation in December 2023 with two wet-leased Airbus A320s. On the other hand, the proposed national carrier was supposed to be launched in 2023, before the previous administration's term ended. Meanwhile, the Nigeria Air project remains suspended by the new aviation minister.

There are also a number of West and Central African countries looking to move forward with plans for state-owned airlines this year. On December 31, 2023, during his last national address, Gabon's head of state announced plans to create a new airline. "The takeoff that we want for our country requires the creation of a new national airline," said the President.

Similarly, West African trio Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are considering launching a joint airline. This was disclosed during a meeting between the economy and trade ministers of the three countries in November 2023. This is part of the initiative to increase connectivity between the three states by developing air, road, and rail networks.


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