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A rendering of what a Nigeria Air aircraft could look like. (Photo: Nigeria Air)

Ethiopian Airlines to Help In Launch of New Nigerian National Carrier, Nigeria Air

Ethiopian Airlines is the preferred bidder for the future Nigerian airline Nigeria Air, Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said last Friday. The Ethiopian national airline will own a 49% stake in the new Nigerian airline, while the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund will take 46% and the Nigerian federal government the remaining 5%.

According to Sirika, Ethiopian Airlines Consortium was the only bidder to have met the June 10 deadline for submission of bids under a request for proposal process launched on March 5.

“Few others attempted to submit but unfortunately could not meet the deadline. Since we did not collect the bids, we are not in a position to say who they are,” he said in a statement.

Ready for Launch

The aviation minister also said Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet is expected to approve the shareholding plan in the coming weeks. Nigeria Air will have an initial capital of $300 million and plans to operate a fleet of 30 aircraft within four years, he said. It will start its activity with a first line between the capital Abuja and Lagos, the commercial capital, and will add other routes later.

Nigeria Air will start its operations with a Boeing 737-800 fleet for now followed thereafter by Boeing 787 aircraft for international operations.

“We will initially bring in six Boeing 737s and between the third and fourth year, the airline will be able to acquire up to 30 aircraft,” Hadi Sirika said. And to emphasize: “Nigeria Air is a limited liability company which will have no government intervention”.

On June 6, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) issued Nigeria Air’s Air Transport License (ATL) after it had approved all interim executives in May 2022.

A “signature-ready” contract has been finalized with Ethiopian Airlines for the three 737-800s with a configuration of 16 business class and 150 economy class seats. Ethiopian Airlines will provide the initial crews and engineers while Nigerian Air recruits flight- and cabin crews, plus aircraft engineers.

The first aircraft is ready to arrive in Abuja for inspection by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), demonstration flights, and audit as part of certification requirements. In time, two more should arrive to complete the required three minimum.

Having identified the first three aircraft for the fleet, Nigeria Air will now finalize all necessary operations manuals and then go through the inspection and approval process for an air operator’s certificate (AOC) from the NCAA.

The overall share capital of around $300 million, provided by the preferred bidder is what will launch Nigeria Air to its full size of 30 aircraft and international operation within the next two years.

No further FGN funding will be provided above the 5% share capital of the next national Carrier of Nigeria, which was provided to launch Nigeria Air.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 220 million people, is seeking to establish a national airline and airport infrastructure for its economic development. The former flag carrier Nigeria Airways, wholly owned by the Abuja government, went bankrupt and ceased operations in 2003.


  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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