Ethiopian Airlines confirms inaugural flight of controversial Nigeria Air in 2023.

Key Points:

  • Nigeria Air, the controversial national carrier of Nigeria, is slated to commence flight operations in October 2023, as announced by Ethiopian Airlines.

  • Ethiopian Airlines, which owns a 49% stake in the airline, disclosed that the carrier will start operations with eight aircraft.

  • The Nigeria Air was initially unveiled in 2018 and later formally launched by former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika in May 2023, sparking widespread controversy.

ADDIS ABABA —On Thursday, Ethiopian Airlines delivered the news that Nigeria Air, the country's contentious national carrier, is expected to initiate flight operations in October 2023. The announcement adds a new chapter to the saga surrounding the airline, which has been mired in controversy since its inception.

The unveiling of Nigeria Air first occurred at the Farnborough International Airshow in London back in 2018. However, the official launch took place much later, in May 2023, orchestrated by Nigeria's then-Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika. Sirika inaugurated the airline with a single aircraft just two days before the end of his term, a move that sparked significant nationwide discontent.

Ethiopian Airlines' Chief Executive Officer, Mesfin Tasew, in an interview with Bloomberg TV, revealed operational details about the impending launch of Nigerian Air. According to Tasew, the airline will initiate operations with a fleet comprising two wide-bodied planes and six narrow-bodied aircraft. "We are eager to see the airline start flying and connecting the local market to the international market," Tasew stated.

Details of the airline's ownership structure indicate a mixed control. Ethiopian Airlines holds a substantial 49% stake in the airline, while the Federal Government of Nigeria and Nigerian private investors, including SAHCO, MRS, and other institutional investors, possess five percent and 46% stakes respectively.