One of the World's Largest Countries May Finally Get Its Own Airline
Almost 15 years after Nigeria Airways collapsed, the country looks like it will be getting a new airline.
Nigeria announced at the Farnborough airshow that it would be relaunching a new airline, known as Nigeria Air. The most populated country in Africa has been without a national carrier since 2003.
The future branding and livery was unveiled by Nigerian Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika at the airshow. Sirika says it will be operating by December 2018, an aggressive date since the carrier doesn't have a single aircraft or investor.
Assistant to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Bashir Ahmad, was at the announcement and tweeted out a few images of the presentation.
Ahmad claims the airline will be flying Boeing 737 Max Aircraft by December 2018.
Nigeria isn't great at running airlines. It ran Nigeria Airways into the ground and hasn't had a flag carrier since. Air Nigeria and Virgin Nigeria couldn't find a way to operate profitably in the years after, and both ceased operations following just a few years of flying.
Arik Air is currently the largest carrier in Nigeria currently but doesn't fly outside of Africa. The country is connected to the US by Delta, which flies nonstop from Atlanta (ATL) and New York (JFK) to Lagos (LOS). Most of the large European and Middle Eastern carries like Air France, British Airways, Etihad and Qatar link the country to other parts of the world.
Fortunately, the government of Africa's largest economy will be hands off with this project.
"The Nigerian Government will not own more than 5% (maximum) of the new National Carrier," Sirika said. "The government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it. Nigeria Air is a business and not a social service. It is not intended to kill any airline in Nigeria but complement and promote it.
It still has quite a few hurdles to cross before its up and running, the first being money. The airline is currently without investors and only just received approval to start looking for them.
Sirika said that the upstart is in talks with Boeing and Airbus and will be announcing deals very soon — although its already released mockups of widebody Airbus A330s and single-aisle Boeing 737MAXs.
The airline has selected 81 possible routes, although Sirika didn't get into many specifics. It plans for 40 domestic and regional routes and 41 international flights — some of which could reach China and India.