Aviation Minister suspends Nigeria Air launch again

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Nigeria Aira new airline project backed by the Nigerian government, faces an uncertain future after the country’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamoordered his suspension, local media reported.

Regarding the airport concession and the Nigeria Airline Project, the minister said everything would be put on hold (suspended) until he briefs Mr. President on his findings. Mr. Keyamo added that while he was willing to protect local airlines, he expected them to be more efficient and effective, noting that problems cancellation and of flight delays will be examined and laws will be enforced where necessary. The minister further ordered the owners to remove the unusable planes.

The decision to suspend the planned operation of the Nigerian airline and the airport concession came less than two weeks after Mr. Keyamo was sworn in as Minister of Aviation and less than four months after his predecessor, Hadi Sirikarevealed the controversial airline in may.

The minister, appointed to his current position at the beginning of August 2023, would also have ordered an investigation into the contracts and projects signed by his predecessor. It is true that plans to launch a new national airline in Africa’s most populous country have been marred by controversy, legal challenges and repeated delays.

Nigeria Air was expected to launch in the first half of 2023 and was officially “inaugurated” in May 2023. A plane, a Boeing 737painted in the colors of Nigeria Air, was flown to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to be paraded in front of the media. But it later turned out that the plane was temporarily borrowed from Ethiopian Airlinespartner of this project and which holds 49% of the capital of the new company.

October 2023 was then announced as the new launch date. Ethiopian Airlines CEO Mesfin Tasew even revealed some details, such as plans to operate a fleet consisting of two widebodies and two narrow-bodies. But recent statements by the country’s new minister now put this situation at risk.

The creation of a new national company was strongly contested by Nigerian incumbent operators, Arik Air, Air Peace, Dana Air, Aero Contractors, Overland Airways, Azman Air, Max Air, etc., who see it as a case of unfair competition. The country has been orphaned by the national company since the cessation of activities of Nigeria Airways since 2003.

John Walker Avatar