While speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria over the weekend, the Director General of the ICRC, Mr Michael Ohiani, said President Muhammadu Buhari has given a presidential approval to the new deadline. He also noted that part of the plan is to launch Nigeria Air before the end of President Buhari’s tenure.
In the meantime, Business Insider Africa understands that the ICRC is working closely with Nigeria’s aviation ministry towards meeting the deadline.
“I want to assure the Nigerian public that we are working round the clock to get it operational. We are working with the Ministry of Aviation and we have just gotten a presidential approval.
“We will get the concessionaire, once we have gotten the concessionaire which is a major step, the issue of operation will now follow… I can assure you that before the end of this administration, Air Nigeria will start flying,” Mr Ohiani said.
Nigeria has repeatedly pushed back the launch of the national airline since the project was first announced. President Muhammadu used the airline as a campaign promise years ago, and Nigerians have been awaiting its launch since 2018. In November 2021, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika assured that the airline would finally become operational in April 2022. It may not come as a surprise to many people if the new date eventually gets pushed back as well.
Recall that the West African country has not owned a national carrier since 2003 when its defunct national airline, Nigeria Airways, ceased to exist. At the moment, the country is the only leading economy in Sub-Saharan Africa that does not have a national airline. This is unlike Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa whose national airlines are among the leading airlines in Africa.