Nigeria: Airline Operators Kick Against Move to Start Nigeria Air

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) representing indigenous airlines in the country, has kicked against the plan by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to deliver the national carrier, Nigeria Air, before May 29, describing it as contemptuous.

The AON's statement came following the minister's statement to the effect that aircraft branded with Nigeria Air would arrive Nigeria today (Friday).

Sirika had said, "On the question of Nigeria Air, on Friday, in two days, Nigeria Air plane will land in Nigeria as part of the processes to commence operation."

Daily Trust learnt that the aircraft might arrive from Ethiopia Airlines, holding the largest share of the airlines.

But the AON, which took the federal government to court challenging the shareholding structure, said the comments and actions of the minister "are in flagrant disobedience of the orders of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, which halted the said moves by the minister to float the said airline until the determination of the substantive suit brought by AON against it."

Spokesperson for AON, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, in a statement said the world is watching the regulator, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on the Nigeria Air and its AOC process.

The operators also warned that the moves might create problems for the incoming government of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, adding that the incoming government should not be "Blackmailed into accepting a contraption that would definitely and ultimately hurt the Nigerian economy and destroy millions of existing jobs in favour of one or two individuals and a foreign country by this hurried last minute desperation."

Okonkwo said why AON welcomes the establishment of more airlines in Nigeria as the sky is big enough to accommodate all, "However, AON is against any contraption that is shadowy and not in the best overall interest of the country."

There was no immediate response from the ministry as of press time. Head, Press & Public Affairs in the Ministry, Mr. Odatayo Oluseyi said all enquiries would be answered on the day of unveiling.


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