The Nigerian Government has unveiled the new national carrier at Farnborough Air Show in London. The new national air carrier was on Wednesday, named Nigeria Air.
The newly-unveiled carrier will be private sector-led and driven, as the Nigerian government said it will only own 5% stake in the new National Carrier. Also, Nigeria Air will operate 81 routes including domestic, regional and international routes.
It is pertinent to note that this is not the first time the Nigerian government is launching a national air carrier. In 1958, Nigeria Airways was founded after the dissolution of West African Airways Corporation, WAAC. It held the name WAAC Nigeria until 1971, when it was rebranded to the name it had until it stopped operations in 2003. The Nigeria Airways ceased operations over alleged mismanagement. It was alleged that some government officials and public servants used the airline for private purposes.
The move for a new carrier
In August 2015, the Nigerian government had setup a 13-member committee to consult with international partners for the establishment of a national airline for Nigeria. In the same year, the committee submitted its report to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Aviation, Hajiya Binta Bello.
Nigeria Aviation sector challenges
The country’s aviation sector has experienced several challenges in recent years. In 2016, there were several airlines shutdown their operations in Nigeria amid economic recession.
In June 30, United Airlines stopped its operation in Nigeria. This was as a result of weakness in the energy sector and difficulties in collecting money from tickets sold in Nigeria. Similarly, Spanish national carrier, Iberia Airlines withdrew its services from Nigeria in 2016. Sources claimed the decision to withdraw was based on the huge financial difficulties the airlines is currently facing based on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s forex policy. The policy prevented airlines from repatriating proceeds made in Nigeria back to its parent countries.
Virgin Atlantic Airways was also rumoured to have pulled out of Nigeria after it was alleged that it sacked its cabin crew, a rumour that was subsequently denied.