By John Ikani
Ethiopian Airlines, the government-owned airline based in Addis Ababa, has been selected as the technical partner and the primary investor in Nigeria’s national airline, Nigeria Air.
The selection of Ethiopian Airlines was made ahead of the new operational launch date of June 2023. Recall that the flight operation was initially scheduled for April 2022.
Following its receipt of the Air Transport Licence (ATL) from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in June, the Nigerian Government is moving on with its plans to meet the start date. The permit is valid from June 3, 2022, through June 2, 2027.
Heritage Times (HT) gathered that Ethiopia Airlines’ selection as core investor hints on the company likely taking over the 49 percent stake in Nigeria Air, considering the Bureau of Public Enterprises explains that a core investor owns at least 51% of ownership in a government company.
“Ethiopian Airlines has the equipment needed for the startup of the new national carrier, Nigeria Air. It has many Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft, which would be the equipment that would be deployed with the additional deployment of a few Boeing B737 NG aircraft. The airline is most prepared to support the Nigerian government to actualise its national carrier ambition,” a source familiar with the matter told local news outlet Ripples Nigeria.
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At the end of the first Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in September, Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, said the federal government had spent N651 million on transaction advisory services for the airline project.
Sirika said the ministry would soon request the council’s approval of the full business case, a public-private partnership guided by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) regulations.
The federal government had said it would have a five percent stake in the Nigeria Air project with no government control.
In April, Sirika disclosed that Emirates Airlines also indicated an interest in the airline project.
The airline had obtained an air transport licence (ATL), the preceding step to acquiring an air operator’s certificate (AOC). The airline applied for the certificate in April 2022.