Africa’s most profitable airline, Ethiopian Airlines offered to assist Nigeria set up its much-awaited national airline. The carrier’s representatives led by its Traffic and Sales Manager, Senait Ataklet met with the Chairman, the House Committee on Aviation of Nigeria’s lower legislative house, the House of Representatives, Mr. Nnaji Nnolim. Mr. Nnolim stated that Ethiopian Airlines had robust experience and capabilities in airline management and aircraft maintenance which would be put at the disposal of the proposed new national carrier.
Ms. Ataklet disclosed that apart from concluding plans to resume international flight operations to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, (AIIA) Enugu as soon the Federal Government gives the go-ahead, the airline was planning to introduce cargo operation to the airport to cater for the needs of its South Eastern passengers this time around. She said: “Ethiopian Airlines was ready and willing to render assistance to the Federal Government in setting up a national carrier if given the opportunity. The airline has attained robust experience and capabilities in airline management and aircraft maintenance which would be put at the disposal of the proposed new national carrier”. She described the Enugu route as an important one that the airline would not want to undermine stating that Ethiopian Airlines would want to be the first to land in Akanu Ibiam International Airport when it reopened for international flights.
Nigeria has been in the news for the setting up of the long-awaited national carrier. The Nigerian government’s first attempt at setting up a national airline to be named Air Nigeria was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show and was met with mixed reactions at home. The federal government was expected to own just 5% of the airline in a public-private partnership proposal designed to allow for professional management and avoid previous mistakes. The Nigerian government estimated that initial capital for the airline would range between $150m and $300m in the first few years of operation though the private sector partner has not been identified yet.
The project eventually collapsed under mysterious conditions that left many disappointed. Following the spectacular collapse of the Air Nigeria project, the government undertook a process of setting up Nigeria Eagle Airline. The state-owned Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) intends to retain Arik Air alongside its new start-up NG Eagle at least until the end of 2021, according to Arik Air Receiver Manager, Kamilu Omokide.
He disclosed that AMCON had concluded plans to wet-lease three more aircraft for Arik Air, which has been in receivership with AMCON since 2017. “Currently we are doing very well with operational expenses.” He added: “Arik does not plan to get out of business. It will operate side-by-side with NG Eagle for a while. We have been able to access wet-leases and we have been able to run them very professionally. We have a plan to bring three more planes with the support of AMCON on wet lease, ACMI.”