The Dubai-based airline, Emirates has offered to help Nigeria in the establishment of its new national carrier, Nigeria Air.
“Emirates’ offer is of course very welcomed. We will discuss how to make use of this supportive offer,” Tilmann Gabriel, the transaction advisor to the Nigerian Minister of Aviation told ch-aviation. He emphasised that Emirates was not a bidder for a strategic equity share in the national carrier, but had offered to assist with setting up the airline, if such help was needed.
Gabriel confirmed Nigeria Air’s Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and Air Transport License (ATL) were “well in progress for the launch on July 1, 2022, headed by a team of Nigerian and European experts on-site in Abuja”.
He was responding to statements made by Emirates President Tim Clark during a panel discussion at the World Government Summit 2022 in Dubai on March 28.
Asked if Emirates would get involved in Nigeria Air, Clark said: “If the Nigerian government and the Minister need some assistance in how they go about – perhaps a blueprint – we are very happy to help them, but I would say that they have the wherewithal. They are clearly understanding what needs to be done and they are doing it; and probably within the next year, they will have a very good carrier flying.”
Clark stated he believed there was a viable business case for Nigeria Air as Nigeria was “the powerhouse of Africa”. “There is an enormously compelling business case for it, and quite honestly, we’re all very interested in flying there, as it’s a very rich nation in terms of demand for services and the Nigerians are seeking to travel all over the world”.
Also speaking on the same panel discussion, Nigeria’s aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, made a case for the national carrier by pointing to the country’s 200 million population and a rising middle class with a propensity to fly, plus Nigeria’s geographical accessibility in Africa. He gave his assurances that the airline would operate as a private carrier without interference from the government, which would retain a 5% share.
Gabriel pointed out that the Nigerian government and Emirates had been in contact, referring to recent discussions around Covid regulations for Nigerians entering Dubai, discussions about the Bilateral Air Service Agreement when Air Peace (P4, Lagos) was initially refused three frequencies to Dubai Int’l, while Emirates flies 21x weekly to Nigeria. “These were all amicably solved by the minister based on his resolute actions,” he pointed out.
As reported the Nigerian government has commenced discussions with Airbus and Boeing to acquire the first three narrow-body aircraft for Nigeria Air.
Bids have also been invited by May 10, 2022, for a 49% strategic equity partner comprising of a private sector consortium including an international airline as a technical partner. Nigerian financial and institutional investors are being asked to bid for 46% shareholding, while the government will retain a 5% stake.