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Nigeria Air’s Much-Anticipated Launch Date Finally Set

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
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Nigeria’s Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has announced today that it is “working around the clock” to succeed in making Nigeria Air fully operational by June 2023.

The airline, a spiritual revival of the company Nigeria Airways which became defunct in 2003, was initially set to launch in April 2022, however, this launch was delayed by a year. Since then President Muhammadu Buhari has made the launching of a national airline one of his Presidential campaign promises.

“I want to assure the Nigerian public that we are working ’round the clock to get [Nigeria Air] operational,” said ICRC Director-General Michael Ohiani.

“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, Nigeria Air will start flying.”

Nigeria Air as a company was established in 2004 as a joint venture between the Virgin Group and several Nigerian investors before it ceased operations in 2012. However, now as part of the Presidential Aviation Roadmap launched in 2016, the airline is set to become the new national carrier, with the plan also expected to include a means to develop cargo airports, a new Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, a national leasing company and several other initiatives.

In November 2021, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced that Nigeria Air would launch in April 2022 after being given approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC). However, now it seems that this initial launch will be delayed.

According to Simple Flying, the current plan for Nigeria Air’s ownership, according to Sirika, will 49% by equity partners, 46% by Nigerians and 5% by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Along with the plans to launch a national carrier, the Federal Government also plans to create a Nigerian aviation leasing company, with Director-General Ohiani explaining that “Experience has show that for you to have a sustainable aviation industry, you have to have a leasing company so that the operators can easily acquire fleets of plans.”

In the short term, this proposed leasing entity would lease aircraft from international lessors before sub-leasing them to Nigerian carriers, with the long-term plan being to purchase its own aircraft and lease to carriers directly.

In January, the Ministry of Aviation approved a proposal from AJ Walters Leasing Limited and Glovesly Pro-Project Limited to create a new leasing entity. The extent company would be a joint venture between the government and private investors.

By Luis Monzon
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