President Muhammadu Buhari, during his electioneering campaign, proposed numerous reforms and sociopolitical changes, one of which was the establishment of a National Carrier, Nigeria Air. Some months ago, President Muhammadu Buhari, during a ministerial performance retreat, informed the general public that the completion process of the national carrier was at ninety nine percent . The president also informed that the establishment of the national carrier would serve as his administration’s parting gift to the country.
Even with the provided completion updates, the administration has continued to struggle to concretely deliver this promise as the tenure runs out of time. Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s Minister for Aviation, on Wednesday insisted that the Nigeria Air would commence its operations sooner than expected. Speaking to reporters after the weekly meeting of the federal executive council, the minister said that the regulatory approval process to ensure the carrier’s operations was in its final stage.
FG announced that national carrier will be managed by a private sector.
Most Nigerians have criticized the Buhari administration for seeking to establish another national carrier after the subsidence of the former carrier, Nigeria Airways. Mr. Sirika assured that the national carrier would soon commence flying, as the aircraft was ready and painted in the country’s colors. He further explained that every necessary processes had been completed and we’re at the fifth stage of issuance by the NCCA. When ask to specifically indicate the expectancy timeframe, he said it would be actualized soon.
With less than three months to the end of the President Buhari administration, the government has indicated that the newly established national carrier would be managed by a private sector and only owned partly by the government. As a result, some local airlines in the country have sued the federal government, demanding an immediate stop to the new national carrier, claiming that it would clearly get unfair advantages over the other airlines in the country.
Issued interim injunction restrains FG from establishing national carrier.
In November last year, a federal high court in Lagos issued an interim injunction order on the Nigerian government, restraining them from continuing with the proposed national carrier establishment. In the suit summon, the plaintiff was said to have formulated five questions for the court’s determination, one of which was whether the process of the sale, sales transfer and consortium was in line with the provision of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission Act 2005, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act and International Civil Aviation Organization Convention. It is important to note that this case is still in court.
Nigeria Air proposed project was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show in England on July 18, 2018. Upon this unveiling, the project was swiftly suspended for about two months as a result of critics’ concerns of its sustainability. Minister of Aviation pointed that he was not aware of any court injunction that was restricting the operational commencement of the Nigeria Air and as such, noted that the national carrier would start its operations as soon as possible.
Ethiopian airline, a core investor in Nigeria Air with 49% shareholding.
The proposed project, which was projected to cost $8.8 million in preliminary cost and $300 million in its take off cost, was carried many years after prior national carrier, Nigeria Airways became dysfunctional as a result of the lack of good management and sustainability. The federal executive committee approved the leasing of three aircraft in July last year, to enable the commencement of the airline’s operation. Hadi Sirika, during a press briefing in September, noted that the Ethiopian airline was an important investor in Nigeria Air with about 49 percent shareholding. This prompted local airline operators to file a suit against the federal government on the basis that they were better suited to manage Nigeria Air better than any foreign airline.