In mid-2018, the Nigerian government announced plans to relaunch a national airline. Within a couple of months, the project was scrapped. It looks like it’s now back on.
Nigeria’s 2018 plans for a new national airline
At the Farnborough Airshow in July 2018, the Nigerian government revealed it was in advanced stages to form Nigeria Air, with the plan being for the airline to launch by the end of 2018.
The government even revealed branding for the airline, along with a slogan, “bringing Nigeria closer to the world.” The plans for the airlines were by no means modest, as the intent was for the airline to serve 84 destinations within years.
This development came 15 years after Nigerian Airways, the previous state-run airline, ceased operations. Officials insisted that while the government would invest in the airline, “it is a business, not a social service,” and therefore the government wouldn’t be involved in running the airline.
Unfortunately those plans didn’t last for long — within a couple of months, the decision was made to scrap these plans.
Nigeria Air back on, with support of Ethiopian Airlines
In the past few months there has been talk about the government reviving plans for Nigeria Air, and we now have more details of what that could look like.
While I wouldn’t put any money on this materializing, there’s an interesting update nonetheless. THISDAY reports that plans are back on for the launch of Nigeria Air, with the support of Ethiopian Airlines. According to this report:
- Nigeria’s government has selected Ethiopian Airlines as the technical partner and core investor for the establishment of Nigeria Air, with an official announcement expected soon
- Ethiopian Airlines would allegedly have a 49% stake in the airline, and would provide aircraft, technical personnel, and management for the airline, but wouldn’t invest any cash
- The Nigerian government would have a 5% stake in the airline, with the rest being sold to private Nigerian investors
- The Nigerian government allegedly wanted other airlines to bid for involvement in the project, but only Ethiopian Airlines expressed interest
- Nigeria Air would initially fly Dash 8 and Boeing 737 jets on regional routes; how refreshing to see an airline with reasonable growth expectations
- Nigeria Air already has an Air Transport License, and next needs to obtain an Air Operator Certificate
Interestingly Green Africa Airways was supposed to be a huge private Nigerian airline. While the airline already has some turboprops in its flight, it also placed orders for 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8s and 50 Airbus A220-300s. However, there are no signs of those planes actually joining the carrier’s fleet.
While odds are probably stacked against the airline, it seems that Nigeria is once again planning to establish a national airline. This was first announced back in 2018, but the project was scrapped within a couple of months. The government has been working on resurrecting the project this year, and it’s expected that this airline could launch with the support of Ethiopian Airlines.
Personally I still think it’s unlikely the airline will launch, but who knows. At least if Ethiopian Airlines is involved in the project, you know it’ll be run a bit more responsibly.
What do you think the odds are of Nigeria Air launching?