• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Ethiopian Airlines announces FG’s withdrawal from Nigeria Air project

Ethiopian Airlines to resume direct flights to Bangui, Central African Republic

Ethiopian Airlines has announced that the Nigerian government is no longer interested in establishing the proposed Nigeria Air joint venture.

This confirmation came from Mesfin Tasew, the Group’s Chief Executive Officer,  in Dubai over the weekend.

The announcement was reported by Ethiopian Tribune, a major Ethiopian media outlet.

“The Nigerian government has lost interest in partnering with a foreign airline,” Tasew said.

This announcement by Ethiopian Airlines comes barely two months after the Federal Government indefinitely suspended the Nigeria Air project.

In May 2024, during the ministerial briefing marking the first year of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, announced the indefinite suspension of the Nigeria Air project.

Keyamo had previously criticized the deal with Ethiopian Airlines as unfair to Nigerian airlines, stating it would be irresponsible for the Federal Government to allow a foreign entity to monopolize Nigeria’s aviation industry, thereby compromising the growth of local businesses.

The former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration announced the Nigeria Air project on July 18, 2018, aiming to revive the defunct Nigerian Airways.

However, two months later, it was suspended due to concerns about its relevance and sustainability. The airline was projected to incur $8.8 million in preliminary costs and $300 million in take-off costs.

In 2022, Ethiopian Airlines won the bid to manage Nigeria Air, agreeing to a structure where they would hold a 49 per cent stake, the Federal Government five per cent, SAHCO 15 per cent, and other investors 31 per cent.

In May 2023, just before the end of the previous administration, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika officially launched Nigeria Air.

By June 2023, the House of Representatives criticized the launch process, calling it fraudulent, and the House Committee on Aviation passed a resolution asking the federal government to suspend Nigeria Air’s operations.