Ethiopian Airlines has said it will not be disappointed if Nigeria Air, the country’s national carrier project, is cancelled.
The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Mesfin Tasew, said this to reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He said Ethiopian Airlines had no plans or intentions to establish an airline in Nigeria, and that it was only participating in the bid and helping the Nigerian government to set up the national carrier at their request.
He said: “In the first place, it was not our initiative, it was the initiative of the government. Now, if the government wants us to cancel the project, it is fine with us.”
He said there were some disagreements in some points during the discussions, and that some companies in Nigeria — including airlines — started attacking and opposing the formation of Nigeria Air and also defaming Ethiopian Airlines and the government.
He said Ethiopian Airlines almost withdrew from the project, but the Nigerian government insisted that it was a strategic issue for Nigeria and it had to continue.
The Nigerian government had unveiled Nigeria Air in Abuja in May 2023. However, the launch was marred by controversy.
Domestic aviation firms, under the umbrella of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), had objected to the airline over its ownership structure — a conflict that arose after Ethiopian Air was named as the preferred bidder for Nigeria Air.
As a result, a federal high court in Lagos stopped the government from floating the airline.
On August 31, 2023, Festus Keyamo, the aviation minister, announced the suspension of the national carrier project.
Tasew said he has no intention to kill Nigerian airlines and said “we will not be disappointed if it (Nigeria Air) is cancelled”.