Despite litigation against Nigeria Air, the Federal Government has assured that the airline will commence operations before the end of the first quarter.
The Federal Government also said that, contrary to claims that the airline was dragged to court by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), only five airlines embarked on a legal action against Nigeria Air.
According to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, the airlines are Air Peace, Max Air, United Nigeria Airlines, Topbrass Aviation and Azman Air.
In an interview posted on YouTube by AeroTime, the Minister said the launch of the airline is on course.
On the fate of the proposed national carrier, Sirika said: “Nigeria Air will launch shortly. There is a process to having an airline and that process is driven by Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority. The process comes in different phases for those processes to happen.
“Being a PPP (Public-Private Partnership), it has to go through Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) by establishing a consulting firm, and transaction advisers to make a business case and to know if it is a viable project; and that has been done. It took two years, and the Outline Business Case was produced and approved by ICRC and then taken to the Federal Executive Council, which was also approved. Before now, we went to the public to invite bidders which is a procurement process.
“The process ended up having Ethiopian Airline as the partner with 49 percent, five percent for the government of Nigeria, and 46 percent for Nigerian entrepreneurs and companies coming together to own the rest.
“They have applied for Air Transport Licence, which is being issued and now they are applying for AOC (Air Operator Certificate) and the process has gone very far.
“I believe in the next one or two weeks from today, they should be able to get the AOC issued and that will signal the beginning of the carrier itself being flying. But we have been working for the past six years to establish it and we took this long because we wanted to be very diligent.
“So, I think the airline is on its way coming and it will be soon. It will be launched within this quarter and it will be flying within this quarter and it will give Nigerians the service that has been eluding it”.