Outgoing Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has unveiled the much-talked-about Nigeria Air airline by taking delivery of a Boeing 737-800 ET-AL in its fleet.
The minister, while unveiling the project at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja on Friday evening, stated that there was no sentiments to the it, adding that it’s one infrastructure that has been missing in the general aviation dynamics of the country.
He said: “The airline that is equal to the size of the market, the dynamics of the market of Nigeria, to its geography and the fortunes of the country. Indeed, we do need the kind of infrastructure that we’re having today in the name of Nigeria Air Limited.
“This Nigeria Air Limited, of course, obviously, it’s an entity known to Nigerian laws. There is a partnership between entrepreneurs in Nigeria and the entrepreneurs in Ethiopian Airline Consortium. Consortium is a company belonging to many partners, and it’s very long journey.
“We started in 2016 and it ended up today. There is a history behind all of these. There were challenges down to one for that matter. We didn’t allow them to make us lose focus. We stayed with the eyes on the ball and today we’re here.”
Speaking on the business case, Sirika said that it was envisaged that within the next five years, it will hit the 35 Aircraft mark.
“You don’t come in one day to dump 35 aeroplane. You can’t come in one day and start going to London. So, it’s a gradual process. The aeroplane will be coming one after another. And until in the next five years, according to the business case, we achieve the 35 aircraft mark, from there it continues.”
On his part, the chief commercial officer, Ethiopian Airline, Lemma Yadecha Gudeta, while commending the effort of the federal government of Nigeria, assured that the project under the watch of the Ethiopian Airlines would ensure economical development for the country.
Gudeta, however, assured that the Nigeria Air would be a one billion dollars project in five years time, stating: “As far as the initial business plan that we are working on in collaboration with stakeholders in the consortium, Nigerian air will be a 1 billion US dollar company in five years time.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the airline unveiling, a public affairs commentator, David Hundeyin, @DavidHundeyin said “I obtained the video below of the purported “Nigeria Air” 737-800 from a source at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital.
“As you can see when you freeze the frame, the aircraft is clearly registered to @flyethiopian with the registration number ET-APL.
“If you put that registration number into @planespotters, you can clearly see that it is an 11 year-old Boeing 737-800 belonging to @flyethiopian.
“It has also briefly appeared in the colours of @MalawianAirline (@flyethiopian owns 49% of @MalawianAirline).
“When you check @flightradar24, you can see that this aircraft is still in active @flyethiopian service, but after disappearing to Tel-Aviv for 5 days (undergoing repainting), has now resurfaced in Abuja to be fraudulently “commissioned” later today by @hadisirika.
“The questions that @hadisirika needs to answer are:
“What exactly is the nature of the ownership and technical agreement between @flyethiopian and the so-called ‘Nigeria Air’?
“Why did he spend billions of naira on this project to deliver essentially a @flyethiopian subsidiary?”