Nigeria’s New National Airline, Nigeria Air, To Launch In 2023

Nigeria Air, the planned national carrier of Nigeria, is set to finally launch in 2023. President Muhammadu Buhari gave presidential approval to the new deadline, promising that the airline would be operational by the time his Presidency ends on May 29th, 2023.

Nigeria Air to launch before June 2023

Nigeria’s Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has announced it is “working around the clock” to get Nigeria Air operational by June 2023. The airline was initially set to launch in April 2022.

Director-General of the ICRC, Michael Ohiani, said,

“I want to assure the Nigerian public that we are working round the clock to get it operational. 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, Air Nigeria will start flying.”

The last government-owned national carrier went bust in 2003. Photo: Kambui via Wikimedia Commons

President Muhammadu Buhari is eager to see his country establish a national carrier before the end of his administration on May 29th, 2023. The government has not owned a national airline since 2003 when Nigeria Airways went defunct.

Air Nigeria, established in 2004, was a joint venture between Virgin Group and Nigerian investors before ceasing operations in 2012.

The ‘Presidential Aviation Roadmap’ launched in 2016. Along with a new national carrier, this plan aims to develop cargo airports, a new Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, a national leasing company and other initiatives.

April 2022 launch scrapped

In November 2021, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced that Nigeria Air would launch in April 2022 after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) gave its approval. However, the date will now be pushed back again.

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President Muhammadu Buhari announced plans for a new national carrier in 2016. Photo: Ppdallo via Wikimedia Commons

According to Sirika, Nigeria Air ownership will comprise 49% by equity partners, 46% by Nigerians and 5% by the Federal Government. President Buhari made the foundation of a national airline one of his Presidential campaign promises, setting an initial launch date of 2018.

A new Nigerian leasing company

The Federal Government also plans to establish a Nigerian aviation leasing company. In the short term, it would lease aircraft from international lessors before sub-leasing them to Nigerian carriers. The long-term plan is to purchase its own aircraft and lease to carriers directly.

ICRC Director-General Ohiani said,

“Experience has shown 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 planes.”

Nigeria is investing in its aviation industry as part of the Presidential Aviation Roadmap. Photo: Green Africa Airways

In January, The Ministry of Aviation approved a proposal from AJ Walters Leasing Limited (AJW Leasing) and Glovesly Pro-Project Limited to set up the new leasing firm. The company would be a joint venture between the government and private investors.

Ohiani also provided an update on planned agriculture cargo airports across the country. Six cargo airports are now in development to boost the agriculture industry.

Are you excited about the upcoming launch of Nigeria Air? Where do you think Nigeria Air will fly to? Let us know in the comments.


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