Nigeria Air Closer To Launching… Maybe?

Nigeria Air Closer To Launching… Maybe?

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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
Ethiopian Airlines may be involved in Nigeria’s new airline

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.

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (11)
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  1. Ayo Olesin Guest

    The Nigeria Air project is doomed to fail... government has NO business setting up a new airline... over N16bn has been spent on consultancy and other stuff while only N700m was released to wet lease three aircraft for starters. No investor will put a dime in it I can bet... FG already has control of Aero and Arik Air through AMCON so why not simply merge both and convert to the so-called national carrier. Air...

    The Nigeria Air project is doomed to fail... government has NO business setting up a new airline... over N16bn has been spent on consultancy and other stuff while only N700m was released to wet lease three aircraft for starters. No investor will put a dime in it I can bet... FG already has control of Aero and Arik Air through AMCON so why not simply merge both and convert to the so-called national carrier. Air Peace has over 30 aircraft, so why no simply designate it as a flag carrier. This project is a waste of time and resources and it shows... what benefits will ET bring other than feathering its own nest and bailing out when it gets tired of the many problems bedeviling the local óperators here

  2. John T Guest

    Nigeria seems like a country ripe for a quality local airline. Huge population, plenty of local wealth and foreign airlines seem to do very well there.
    Corruption and nepotism seems to be the main things stopping this being a success

  3. Uri Guest

    I'd describe their business model as follows:

    A smiling young lady from Niger
    Took a ride on the back of a tiger.
    They returned from the ride
    With the lady inside
    And the smile on the face of the tiger.

    I'm just not sure who's who.

  4. iamhere Guest

    Depends. It would be good if their pricing was reasonable and because of their involvement with Ethiopian may be they could also have Star Alliance benefits. Such status says a lot about lower end airlines and some very low end airlines that are not part of any group are usually very expensive.

  5. glenn t Diamond

    Winner for 2022 Worst World-wide Investment award!
    Savvy Ethiopian Airlines has declined to invest any actual money in the scheme. Seems than since the promoters are looking for private investment there will be plenty of easy-come-easy go cash floating about from corrupt sources looking to park ill-gotten gains.
    I will watch this space with tepid interest to see if it comes to anything.

  6. Sean M. Diamond

    It is election season in Nigeria. View anything coming out of there through that lens for the next few months.

    While Chinedu is probably as well sourced an aviation journalist as there is in Nigeria, I take any leaks from Sirika's office with a huge pinch of salt at the best of times.

    That said, ET is happy to do satellite carrier deals that don't involve cash or widebodies. Their risk in this deal is...

    It is election season in Nigeria. View anything coming out of there through that lens for the next few months.

    While Chinedu is probably as well sourced an aviation journalist as there is in Nigeria, I take any leaks from Sirika's office with a huge pinch of salt at the best of times.

    That said, ET is happy to do satellite carrier deals that don't involve cash or widebodies. Their risk in this deal is low and with a huge upside by securing maintenance, training, lease and management contracts. Even if the carrier fails for political reasons, ET will exit with their assets and the cash. If it succeeds, they get a nice domestic feeder network to complement the regional network that ASKY gives them in Togo next door.

    1. Tom Guest

      NigeriAir is the best name to me. Nigeria Air is weird and hard to say, Air Nigeria or Nigeria Airways/Airlines would both make more sense.

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      They've already used Air Nigeria and Nigeria Airways on previous attempts.

    3. Not2bad41 Guest

      Wow…they flew over some peoples head.

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Sean M. Diamond

It is election season in Nigeria. View anything coming out of there through that lens for the next few months. While Chinedu is probably as well sourced an aviation journalist as there is in Nigeria, I take any leaks from Sirika's office with a huge pinch of salt at the best of times. That said, ET is happy to do satellite carrier deals that don't involve cash or widebodies. Their risk in this deal is low and with a huge upside by securing maintenance, training, lease and management contracts. Even if the carrier fails for political reasons, ET will exit with their assets and the cash. If it succeeds, they get a nice domestic feeder network to complement the regional network that ASKY gives them in Togo next door.

3
Sean M. Diamond

They've already used Air Nigeria and Nigeria Airways on previous attempts.

2
Ayo Olesin Guest

The Nigeria Air project is doomed to fail... government has NO business setting up a new airline... over N16bn has been spent on consultancy and other stuff while only N700m was released to wet lease three aircraft for starters. No investor will put a dime in it I can bet... FG already has control of Aero and Arik Air through AMCON so why not simply merge both and convert to the so-called national carrier. Air Peace has over 30 aircraft, so why no simply designate it as a flag carrier. This project is a waste of time and resources and it shows... what benefits will ET bring other than feathering its own nest and bailing out when it gets tired of the many problems bedeviling the local óperators here

1
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