Nigeria’s aviation minister announced at the Farnborough Airshow International, a biennial major trade exhibition for the aerospace and defence industries with a public airshow in the UK, that the country’s new national airline will be called Nigeria Air and will launch in December. He also explains how the country is planning against the failure of the new carrier.
Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika was at Farnborough for meetings with Airbus and Boeing and other possible partners, including Ethiopian Airlines executives, on providing aircraft for the new start up.
To avoid past mistakes which led to the demise of the country’s national airline, Nigeria Airways, the minister said that the government will own only a small part of the new carrier, a maximum of 5 percent, with the private sector owning the rest.
“The government will support the launch of the new flag carrier with viability gap funding in a public-private partnership arrangement to deliver a national flag carrier guided by international standards,” Sirika said.
The government had identified 81 routes for possible services, but the airline would launch with 40 domestic and regional, and 41 international destinations, the minister said.
“This airline is a business and not a social service. It is not intended to kill any airline in Nigeria but complement it and promote it. It must be done in the right way so that it will be here to stay,” Sirika added.
The minister said a majority stake could be available to an overseas backer as it seeks know-how and cash to help the start-up avoid the fate of its former flag carriers.
There will be no cap on overseas ownership and Nigeria would be prepared to offer more than 50 per cent of the company to a strategic ally, Tilmann Gabriel, who is helping to coordinate the project, said at the Farnborough Airshow.
In unveiling the plan for Nigeria Air, which will have a tail design featuring an eagle-like swirl in green and white, the minister said that having once been dominant in African aviation, Nigeria has a “huge need and desire” for a national airline.