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News: Former Nigerian Aviation Minister snubs Nigeria Air launch as marketing scheme for Ethiopian Airlines

Photo: Zemedeneh Negatu

Addis Abeba – The debut of the Nigeria Air Boeing 737-800 aircraft flown into Abuja last month was Ethiopian Airlines’ idea, not that of the government, said Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s former minister of aviation.

In an interview with Arise News, Sirika said that Ethiopian Airlines’ marketing strategy was behind the use of the plane to relaunch Nigeria Air and that the Nigerian government had not paid anything for the branding and logistics.

“The unveiling was solely Ethiopian Airline’s decision to showcase the Nigeria Air livery on a real aircraft,” he claimed.

Nigeria’s government relaunched its national airline, Nigeria Air, on 26 May in cooperation with Ethiopian Airlines. The plane departed from Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, and touched down at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, according to Nigerian media reports. However, the plane that was unveiled with the Nigerian Air livery during the inaugural ceremony was actually registered as ET-APL and belongs to Ethiopian Airlines, Nigeria Air’s main investor. Since then, the Buhari administration and former minister Hadi Sirika have been the targets of several criticisms.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation and several players in the Nigeria Air project were called to a meeting last week by the Nigerian House of Representatives to resolve the outstanding concerns.

Several aviation players also contested the attempted launch of the national airline, Nigeria Air. They have accused Ethiopian Airlines of disparaging the nation’s aviation industry, while Nnolim Nnaji, the former chair of the House Committee on Aviation, has described the move as a scam.

According to the agreement struck last year, Ethiopian Airlines owns 49% of Nigeria Air, with the remaining 51% owned by the Nigerian Sovereign Fund and the federal government of Nigeria. AS

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