Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika has disclosed that major global Airlines except Ethiopian Airline rejected partnership with the Nigeria Air. According to him, Ethiopian Airlines was the only airline that responded to the country’s requests for expressions of interest and met all the conditions set by Nigeria to be chosen as technical partner for the national carrier, Nigeria Air.
Nigeria led by Sirika’s ministry since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015 had embarked on a journey to establish a Nigerian owned airline since the demise of Nigerian Airways many years ago. We also had it on good authority that an attempt by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), a debt recovery agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish a new airline called NG Eagle from the ashes of its aviation portfolio was allegedly frustrated by the Aviation Ministry as a result of an unexplained interests.
The Minister in a media parley stated that “other airlines around the world refused to partner with Nigeria to launch a national carrier, despite the fact that I personally went to such airlines and met with them at several air shows and international aviation forums to persuade them to do so”.
He however stated that the Ethiopian Airlines has demonstrated to the world that it is not only efficient and prosperous by registering over $1billion in profit after tax even in the aftermath of the dreaded coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but has also continued to thrive despite global aviation challenges.
Sirika was however quick to point out that, “We did not hand over Nigeria Airlines to Ethiopian Airlines,” saying that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the only airline in the world to make a $1billion profit.
“It is the most prosperous, efficient, and leading airline on the African continent, and it was the only airline to respond to our request for a partnership to run the airline after months of advertising expressions of interest.
“Even after some interested persons asked the Nigeria to extend the time of EoI and we did, none of them showed interest. Despite the fact that officials of the ministry of aviation led by me personally visited some of the leading airlines across the world and pleaded with them to take up the partnership with Nigeria to set up the airline, none of them signified interest except Ethiopian Airlines, which has been allotted 49 percent shares while Nigerian institutional investors take up 45 percent and the federal government will take up only five percent.
“The choice of Ethiopian Airlines is good for Nigeria, and it is in line with the African Union Agenda and spirit and to take advantage of the over 1.2 billion population in Africa. Our desire is for Africa to come together and lead the African aviation market through our new partnership with Ethiopian Airlines. The partnership will also reduce cost of operations and air fares for Nigerian and African air travelers as opposed to the current situation.
“Contrary to what people think, let it be known that Ethiopian Airlines emerged as the preferred partner of Nigeria Air through a transparent and credible process that cannot be faulted because we want the project to succeed so that Nigeria can have an airline that does not suffer the fate of the former Nigeria Airways,” Sirika said.