Several Nigerian airlines composing the Airlines of Nigeria (AON) are pushing back against the large stake Ethiopian Airlines will hold in Nigeria’s new flagship carrier Nigeria Air. With Ethiopian expected to obtain 49% of shares in Nigeria Air, existing airlines fear that the flagship carrier of a rival nation will have far too much influence in the airline and the Nigerian economy.

The AON believes the Nigerian flagship carrier should be wholly owned and operated by Nigerian nationals. The Nigerian federal government approved the share sale to Ethiopian because it thinks the well-established carrier will be highly beneficial in helping Nigeria Air get on its feet. Ethiopian has already begun preparations for the new airline.

AON disapproval

AON’s members have been stating that Nigeria Air should be Nigerian owned since its conception. However, this past Thursday, October 20th, the AON restated its commitment to Nigeria Air being Nigerian owned and operated. Ethiopia is an economic rival to Nigeria. The idea that its flagship carrier would control 49% of Nigeria’s flagship carrier is disturbing to many Nigerians. The share would increase Ethiopian Airlines’ influence, allowing a rival nation and airline to significantly benefit from Nigeria Air’s success.

Air Peace E195 E2

Photo: Embraer

The CEO of Air Peace, Allen Ifechukwu Onyema, stated that through this partnership, the country of Ethiopia would gain control over a portion of Nigeria’s economy. He believes Nigeria Air should be a Nigerian Airline through and through with no foreign intervention. Onyema said,

“The fear of AON is that Ethiopia has tried in doing everything possible to access the Nigerian market both frontally and from behind.”We even want the federal government and patriotic Nigerians to fund this airline. Let it be a wholly Nigerian investment because the way Ethiopia is coming in will not benefit Nigeria.”

Onyema went on to share how the AON would instead have the federal government choose another partner for Nigeria Air as it believes Ethiopian will work to destroy the existing competition in the Nigerian air transit market. Onyema shared,

“I would rather prefer Nigeria Air to look for another partner. We have so many Nigerians, let’s market it to them so that we can conserve our money for ourselves,”The manner Ethiopia is coming into the arrangement for Nigeria Air could cause existential problems for indigenous airlines.”We do not want Ethiopian Airlines to come in and ravage our country.”

Ethiopian benefits

Ethiopian Airlines will not only receive nearly half of all stake in Nigeria Air, but it will help launch the company and commence operations. Ethiopian will provide the new startup with several aircraft including multiple Boeing 737s and Bombardier Dash 8s. It will also provide flight crews for these aircraft. The Nigerian government sees the partnership as a wise decision as Ethiopian will provide many essential assets to help ensure the success of Nigerian Air.

Ethiopian Airlines aircraft on tarmac

Photo: Getty Images

Nigerian Air was first announced in 2018 at the Farnborough Airshow. Over the past four years, the airline has slowly gained traction and hopes to launch operations in 2023. The Nigerian government sees the partnership with Ethiopian as essential to ensuring this happens. Despite the disapproval of the AON, a 49% stake in Nigeria Air will be held by Ethiopian. Unless the Nigerian government makes significant changes to its plans for the startup, Ethiopian will lead the new airline.

What do you think of the AON’s disapproval of Ethiopian Airlines’ influence in Nigeria Air? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: The Cable

  • Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner ET-ARF

    Ethiopian Airlines

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Addis Ababa Bole International Airport

    Year Founded:

    Star Alliance

    Mesfin Tasew Bekele



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