The Nigerian government has promised to deliver to the country the long-awaited national carrier whose name is yet to be announced.
This has brought cheers to about 10 million Nigerian air travelers in and to the over 200 million national population as the government has given a reassurance to deliver on the promise made in 2015, to bequeath to Nigerians, an efficient, safe, and profitable national carrier that all Nigerians can be proud of. Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Hadi Abubakar Sirika who exclusively spoke to AirInsight in Abuja, Nigeria said, “We will launch in 2Q21.”
One of the most vexatious ironies about Nigeria – perhaps even an embarrassment – is the lack of a national airline. Nigerians are often piqued to be traveling on airlines owned by smaller, less resource-endowed, African countries. Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa’s national carriers are some of the big players on the continent. Foreign airlines do well from the large and growing number of Nigerian passengers. For instance, Emirates flies twice a day to Dubai from Lagos.
Many Nigerians were elated when the Nigerian government announced during the 2018 International Air Show in London that it intended to establish a new national airline to be named Nigeria Air. The new national airline was expected to be jointly owned by the government and unnamed private investors at a cost of $300 million.
To ensure that it didn’t run into the same set of problems that spelled the doom of Nigeria Airways in 2003, private investors were to hold a majority stake in the new venture. This is no doubt to shield the fledgling airline from undue interference from the government. In September 2020 the Minister announced that the name of the forthcoming airline, Nigeria Air, had been dropped. Shedding more light on the modus operandi for birthing the airline, Sirika further said, “Soon after its completion, it will go to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which is Nigeria’s highest decision-making body for approval. We will not leave this government without having it in place.” He said at the Nigeria Economic Summit Group virtual forum in September 2020 that a carrier would still be brought to fruition but not in a semblance of a national carrier with a national name emblazoned as its livery. The Minister then added that the airline would be established and be able to mimic the role played by Ethiopian Airlines.
The global airline industry has become fiercely competitive, and new entrants have a very hard time surviving. According to Forbes, several airlines ceased operations.