National Carrier: “There’s nothing Nigerian about Nigeria Air” – Airline Operators

The move by the Federal Government to float a national carrier is currently facing scrutiny, as airline operators and aviation stakeholders queried the shareholding structure of the proposed Nigerian Air.

At a webinar yesterday, the spokesman of Airline Operators of Nigeria, (AON), Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, declared, “We have not seen anything Nigerian in this Nigeria Air”.  He spoke at the on-going webinar on ‘Nigeria Air: The Solution to Nigeria’s Aviation Problem’, facilitated by Avaero Capital Partners.

The Federal Government had selected Ethiopian Airlines as the equity partner in the proposed Nigeria Air. Ethiopian Airlines would hold 49% stake, while the Federal Government holds 5 percent and the remaining 46% goes to Nigerian investors.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari two days ago said the national carrier would commence operation in December, 2022.

Okonkwo, who is the Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, questioned the genuineness and transparency of the whole process of establishing the national carrier. According to him, the President was ill-advised on the feasibility of the national carrier, saying the national carrier cannot survive with the proposed shareholding structure.

Okonkwo also declared that it is shameful to be talking about a national carrier in the contemporary global economy. He said what the industry needs is support for local operators and a stoppage to persistent demonisation of the domestic airlines by the people in government.

The Chief Executive Officer of TopBrass Airline, Capt. Roland Iyayi, warned that the fate that befell the defunct Virgin Nigeria, set up in partnership with Virgin Atlantic of the United Kingdom, could befall the Nigeria Air.

According to him, it doesn’t make any strategic sense to enter into a partnership with Ethiopian Airlines. He said it would zero value addition to the domestic market in Nigeria in addition to killing the domestic market.

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