Four years in the making: Nigeria Air moves closer to launch, files for AOC

Ahead of its planned launch in mid-2023, Nigeria Air has applied to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for an Air Operators Certificate (AOC).  

On March 28, 2022, the airline announced in a public notice published by local print media, that the AOC will grant the airline the ability to operate its “scheduled and non-scheduled passenger and cargo services within and outside Nigeria”. 

The notice also states that “any person, or organization that has an objection, or representation with regards to this application should do so within 28 days from the date of this application”. 

The announcement also named the airline’s board of directors as Alexander Musa Adeyemi, Mohammed Shuaibu Naibi and Mohammed Rabiu Shehu.  

In a statement the country’s Federal Ministry of Aviation revealed that the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) will hold a 5% share in the airline. 

Of the remaining shareholdings, a minimum of 46% will be held by Nigerian Financial and Institutional investors and a maximum of 49% will be owned by private sector partners, expected to include an international airline. 

Nigeria Air was first announced in July 2018 at the Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom. The airline was expected to launch as Nigeria’s national carrier and operate a fleet of five aircraft comprising Airbus A330s and Boeing 737s. The airline had identified 81 routes and its aim would be to operate up to 30 aircraft after five years of running operations. 

Progress towards the airline’s launch was halted, however, in September 2018 by the Federal Executive Council FEC, a government body in Nigeria. However, in November 2021, after a two-year hiatus, the FEC reactivated efforts towards launching the airline. 

The airline was then expected to commence operation in April 2022, but the date was pushed back to mid-2023, following an address of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari who stated that the carrier would be operational before the end of his tenure on May 29, 2023. 

Michael Ohiani Director General of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in late February 2022: “I want to assure the Nigerian public that we are working round the clock to get it operational. We are working with the Ministry of Aviation, and we have just gotten presidential approval. I can assure you that before the end of this administration, Air Nigeria will start flying.” 

Additionally, Ohiani revealed to NAN its plans to develop MRO facilities in Nigeria with the help of an investor, details around which are being finalized, as well as efforts towards establishing an aircraft leasing company in Nigeria. 

“Experience has shown that for you to have a sustainable aviation industry, you have to have a leasing company to that the operators can easily acquire fleets of planes,” Ohiani added.


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