After months of anticipation and controversy, Nigerian Air, the country’s new national carrier, is finally set to take to the skies by October this year. According to reports from Bloomberg, Mesfin Tasew, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, the company that owns a 49% stake in the airline, recently confirmed the scheduled commencement of operations in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Friday.
Ethiopian Airlines emerged as the winner in the bid to handle the operations of Nigeria Air back in 2022. However, the bidding process was marred by controversies, with local players expressing complaints about the alleged advantages given to Ethiopian Airlines. Despite the contentious circumstances, Tasew emphasized the company’s eagerness to see Nigeria Air become operational, serving both domestic and international routes.
The new airline is expected to kick off its operations with two wide-bodied planes and six narrow-bodied aircraft. Tasew highlighted Ethiopian Airlines’ objective to facilitate the establishment of a flag carrier for Nigeria. In the initial stages, Ethiopian Airlines will be actively involved in managing the airline to ensure its success and effective functioning.
Addressing the challenging business environment in Nigeria, Tasew expressed optimism based on the nation’s vast economic potential. While Nigeria has its unique set of business challenges, the sheer size of its economy and the inherent opportunities it presents make it an attractive market for the aviation industry.
Nigeria Air was originally unveiled in London in 2018, but the project was met with controversies and doubts. Former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika launched the airline just days before the end of the Buhari administration, leading to questions about the ownership of the aircraft used during the launch. Eventually, it was confirmed that the planes belonged to Ethiopian Airlines.
As the nation eagerly awaits the commencement of operations for Nigeria Air, the aviation industry is poised for significant developments. The launch of a national carrier promises to boost the country’s air connectivity, foster economic growth, and enhance Nigeria’s presence in the global aviation arena.
With October fast approaching, all eyes are on Nigerian Air as it prepares to take its inaugural flight and embark on a journey to become a formidable player in the skies, representing Nigeria’s aspirations and ambitions on the international stage.