Nigeria Air announces Timeline For Commencement Of Commercial Flights, Defends Choice of Technical Partner

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By Kazeem Hassan

The newly unveiled national carrier, Nigeria Air, has revealed that it would soon make formal announcement for job opportunities as it continues to make preparations for commencement of commercial flights, which is projected to take place in the third quarter of this year.

Nigeria Air was unveiled on Friday, May 26, 2023, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, with a dual promise of quality service delivery and job creation, among others.

The job creation drive disclosure was contained in a document, entitled “Nigeria Air: The Journey So Far”, made available to newsmen in Abuja on Monday, by the airline’s media office.

According to the document, announcement for job opportunities would be made in key national newspapers for pilots, engineers, cabin crew and other positions.

The vacancy advertisements would also be posted on Nigeria Air website and social media platforms, as revealed by the document.

Indications in the Aviation industry have shown that the establishment of the airline did not sit well with the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), an umbrella body of indigenous airline owners in Nigeria, who have continually opposed and queried the process leading to the setting up of the National Carrier.

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), had sometime in November 2022, approached a Federal High Court in Lagos to obtain an interim injunction to prevent the Ministry of Aviation from progressing with the launch of the new national carrier. The AON had contended that the National Carrier would stifle the growth of domestic airlines by taking control of the various domestic, regional and international routes, because of its partnership with the Ethiopian Airlines, which they claimed would have undue advantage over other airlines.

But the Aviation Ministry had insisted that Nigeria Air was not established to create a monopoly but to improve the standards in the Nigerian Aviation industry, create jobs for Nigerians and reduce capital flight that currently occurs due to most international routes being operated by foreign carriers.

It also said that in spite of AON’s allegations of lack of transparency in the process of the airline’s establishment, “The project was properly advertised in local and international publications and some of the members of AON participated in the RFP process but did not submit a bid. The procurement process was in line with ICRC’s guidelines for Public Private Partnership in Nigeria”

The document said further:”The aim of establishing a national carrier is to improve service delivery and promote competition that will offer best value to Nigerian air travellers, promote national image and prestige, as well as engender multiplier effects on the economy. Nigeria Air has been structured based on the results of the various analyses conducted and in line with extant international laws with respect to composition of a flag bearer. The project was properly advertised in local and international publications and some of the members of AON participated in the RFP process but did not submit a bid. The procurement process was in line with ICRC’s guidelines for Public Private Partnership in Nigeria.

“Nigeria Air is for Nigerians and other passengers. We must all come together and protect it alongside other airlines. It is a source of national pride for all of us that we can now do what other countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda etc have done over the years, which is to fly their country’s flag to major international destinations, offering Nigerians and other passengers cheaper and reliable flights.

“Ethiopian Airlines has 77 years of successful global airline experience. They are by far the largest carrier in Africa and are amongst the 30 largest airlines in the world. They grossed $6 billion in revenue, almost $1 billion in profits in 2022, and have over 140 modern aircrafts in their fleet. Ethiopian Airlines has serviced Nigerian passengers uninterrupted since the country’s independence.

“Nigeria Air at commencement of operations will operate both domestic and international routes with modern Boeing 737 Max and 787 aircraft, thus giving Nigerians and other passengers the best in terms of quality service and on-time departures. Nigeria Air will not only meet international standards, but will provide competitive alternative to international passengers, and also domestic passengers that have had to contend with poor quality service, incessant delays and cancellations of booked flights over the years.

“When fully operational, Nigeria Air will have in its fleet over 30 modern aircraft consisting of Boeing 737 MAXs for regional and local flights and 787 Dreamliner wide-bodies for long haul international flights to New York, London, Dubai, China and many other destinations. An aviation academy will be setup in Abuja, Nigeria, and there will be hundreds of well-paying job opportunities for Nigerians including pilots, cabin crew, engineers, technicians and many other staff. A modern Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facility will be established in Abuja. Revenue projections for Nigeria Air within 5 years is over US$1.0 billion.”

* Hassan, a development journalist, wrote from Yola.