“I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim,” Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika wrote in a tweet. “All commitments due will be honored.”
Sirika did not elaborate on the reasons why the airline project is now no longer being pursued other than saying they were “strategic” and had nothing to do with politics.
The project was presented to an international audience at the Farnborough Air Show in July. According to the plans at the time, the airline was supposed to have made its first flight just before the end of the year. Nigeria Air was going to initially operate a leased fleet of around 14 aircraft, a number that would rise to around 30 aircraft over three to four years.
The Nigerian government insisted at the time that Nigeria Air would be led and controlled by the private sector, even though it planned to hold a stake of up to 5%. It was seeking foreign investment of up to $300 million.
Ethiopian Airlines, which is already involved in other airline projects outside of its home country, expressed an interest in participating. Sirika on July 19 also tweeted a picture of himself with Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker describing him as “a potential partner/investor. Discussion continues … it is working.”
He also tweeted about negotiations with Airbus, Boeing and other manufacturers.
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