Nigeria’s minister of state for aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the country aims to launch a new national airline, called Nigeria Air.
According to Reuters, Sirika said that, in the best-case scenario, the new flag carrier will take off before April 2022.
A strategic partner will own a 49% stake in the airline. A further 46% will be owned by local companies, with the government would not hold more than 5%.
Sirika also revealed that the search for a strategic partner is about to commence. It could be either a foreign airline or a financial institution, and the required capital is between $150 million and $300 million.
This is not the first time Nigeria has attempted to set up a flag carrier. The last attempt, announced in 2018, ended without a tangible result. While experts claimed the initiative was unable to find suitable investors, the government denied that this was the case. However, no alternative explanation was provided.
The country was left without a national airline in 2003, when Nigeria Airways ceased operations after 45 years of service.
In 2005, Virgin Atlantic set up its local branch, Virgin Nigeria, as a joint venture with the Nigerian government. In 2008 Virgin sold its stake in the airline, and the carrier was rebranded Air Nigeria, only to cease operations in 2012, following safety troubles, groundings and an accumulation of debt.