Nigeria looks to set up new national carrier
27 / 08 / 2015
The Nigerian Government has set up a committee to look into re-establishing a national airline.
It will be chaired by former Discovery Airlines chairman, Captain Mohammed Abdulsalam, and is tasked with reviewing reports by previous consultants and the collapse of the now defunct Nigeria Airways, along with other failed private carriers.
The latter included Richard Branson’s Virgin Nigeria – later rebranded Air Nigeria – which closed in 2012 with massive debts, after the UK billionaire pulled out of the venture in 2010.
Ministry of aviation Binta Bello said that the venture had the backing of the country’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, adding that a new national carrier would bring not only economic benefits but boost national pride and create jobs.
The committee will consult with national stakeholders and potential international participants in a possible public private partnership.
A number of private Nigerian carriers have emerged since the liquidation of Nigeria Airways in 2003, notably Arik Air which took over some of the national airline’s former facilities in Lagos.
Its fleet includes A330-200 aircraft, which it operates on international routes to Heathrow, Johannesburg, New York and Dubai and it also has smaller types such as 737s which it uses on its extensive domestic and regional network. However, orders for further large aircraft such as the 747-8 have yet to be firmed up.
Another is Aero Contractors (or Aero), now 60% owned by the federal government’s Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). It operates international and domestic services with a fleet of 737 and smaller aircraft.
According to reports, one suggestion is that some of the smaller carriers – many of whom are loss-making – could be merged to form the nucleus of the new national carrier.