FG unveils Nigeria Air, maintains it is private sector-driven

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The Federal Government has unveiled Nigeria Air, a national carrier. The Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika performed the ceremony at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on Friday. Thirty aircraft are expected to form the fleet of Nigeria Air in the next five years. However, only one aircraft has arrived.

Senator Hadi Sirika insists that the national carrier would be private-sector driven with the Federal Government holding just a 5% stake while private owners would hold the remaining 95% share in the new airline. Ethiopian Airlines holds a 49 percent stake in the new airline. Meanwhile, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had faulted plans by the outgoing Sirika to launch the operations of Nigeria Air despite a restraining court order on the project.

AON lawyers wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari asking him to stop the minister. However, Sirika insists that he has not violated the court order. According to him, an opportunity was given to domestic airlines to participate in the bidding process for the ownership of the national carrier but none of them met the standard.

Although Sirika had previously said Nigeria Air would commence operation on May 29, 2023, he told journalists that it will commence operation when a second aircraft arrives. But, he did not state the exact date the second aircraft would arrive.

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