Nigeria Air, the new proposed new flag carrier of Nigeria, has taken delivery of its first aircraft, local newspaper The Punch has reported.
The arrival of the aircraft, which landed in Nigerian capital Abuja on May 26, 2023, is part of the plan to commence the flag carrier’s operations, according to Nigeria’s Aviation Minster Hadi Sirika.
In an interview with Channels Television on May 24, 2023, Sirika said that Nigeria Air would commence operations before May 29, 2023, the end of the administration of Nigeria’s outgoing president, Muhammadu Buhari.
Sirika added that upon the arrival of the aircraft on May 26, 2023, the aircraft livery in “Nigeria Air colors” would be unveiled, after which the aircraft would be retrofitted.
Nigeria Air launch met with pushback
However, the launch of Nigeria Air, which had been prolonged due to a prior lawsuit filed by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), has received further pushback from member airlines of the AON.
In a letter seeking to halt Nigeria Air commencing operations, AON members have asked Nigeria’s outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari, to halt the “illegal” attempt by Nigeria’s Aviation Minister that seeks to “circumvent the court orders on Friday being the last working day of this administration and possibly to cover up the various infractions of Nigerian laws, among others,” reported The Punch.
According to the report. the AON noted that flying two aircraft in Nigeria Air livery ‘is a clever way to violate court orders.’
Nigeria Air receives nod from Ethiopian Airlines Boss on readiness for launch
The arrival of Nigeria Air’s first aircraft to follows a recent announcement by Ethiopian Airlines (ET) CEO Mesfin Tasew, confirming that the new proposed flag carrier was ready for launch, despite the lawsuit obstacles.
On April 13, 2023, in a podcast interview with AviaDev Insight Africa’s host and CEO, Jon Howel, Tasew confirmed that “excellent progress” had been made towards Nigeria Air’s establishment and that ET had already agreed “on nearly all terms” with all stakeholders in the new carrier.
“We have already agreed with all the consortium of shareholders who will participate in setting up the airline [and] we have also reached [an] agreement with the Nigerian government on nearly all terms,” said Tasew.