The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika Wednesday said the government would go ahead with its partnership with the Ethiopian Airlines to run Nigeria Air despite opposition from domestic operators.
At an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Aviation and the industry regulators, the Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) reiterated their opposition to the choice of Ethiopian Airlines as the major investor in the Nigeria Air.
Ethiopian Airlines is to hold largest share of 49%; while the Nigerian government is to hold 5% share and 46% for Nigerian investors.
Vice President, AON, who is also the Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said what the Ethiopian Airlines had decided to do was to enter into the Nigerian market and reduce its prices to the detriment of the local operators over a period of six months and take over 60 per cent of the market share.
He said, “It is our belief that the six months period would lead to the liquidations of several domestic carrier. The Ethiopian Airlines/Nigeria Airlines Limited partnership may appear good initially, but in the long run, it’d have ripple effects on the local airlines whose market would’ve been decimated.
“In no distant time, the local airlines would be out of the market leaving only the Ethiopian Airlines and a few others flying the Nigerian space.
“This would skyrocket the prices of flights because the demands would be higher than supply.”
But Sirika wondered why AON was opposed to the national carrier with Ethiopian Airlines as a strategic partner, saying they were all carried along when the project started seven years ago.
He said all airline operators, including the domestic carriers were invited, but the Ethiopian Airlines duly won the bid calling for investments in the national carrier.
He said the intent of the national carrier was not to kill any business, but to help promote all businesses and provide the needed service and employ Nigerians.
He said: “The fact that it is going to be a robust airline that is going to be established, that is going to have connections all over the world, it only means that the market of Nigeria which is 200 million people will begin to be the benefit of Nigerians not to the benefit of British Airways, Lufthansa and Emirates airlines of this world that are coming to take the money of Nigeria away. So the intent is noble.”
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