Amidst fanfare, the minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika delivered his long promised Nigeria Air to millions of Nigerians on Friday, May 26th, 2023. Days leading to the unveiling of the aircraft, the minister at different times had declared that the aircraft was set to make its way to the shores of Nigeria. But what many didn’t know was that there was indeed no aircraft for the supposed national carrier. Nigerians have been deceived.

The Boeing 737-800 series aircraft presented to Nigerians as the “Nigerian Air” is in fact an Ethiopia Airlines aircraft. According to Planespotters, the aircraft’s Registration Number is ET-APL and the Mode is S Q4005C. The Serial Number and line number is 40965 and 4075 respectively. Findings show the aircraft was first delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in June 2012. The same aircraft was leased to Malawian Airlines in 2014 and was then reacquired by Ethiopian Airlines in 2015. It has been in operations under Ethiopian Air since then.

Since 2018 when the minister made an open declaration of a Nigeria carrier at the Farnborough Airshow, every decision and actions taken towards the actualization of the Nigeria Air project has been shrouded in irregularity and lack of transparency. The entire process was flawed. Ethiopian Airlines was announced the majority shareholder in the Nigeria Air project with a 49% stake, while two Nigerian companies hold a 46% stake and the remaining 5% stake is held by the Federal Government.

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has faulted this structure, filing a suit against the Federal Government. Despite a standing court order stopping the FG from going further with any matters that concerns Nigeria Air, the minister went ahead to reveal the Nigeria Air aircraft to the world. An aircraft that has since returned to its original home.

A flight tracking website, shows the details of the operations of this particular aircraft. Scheduled to depart Addis Ababa by 9.55am on 26th of May, the plane arrived in Abuja at 12.43pm and by 7.05pm, after the whole shenanigans of course, the plane landed in Addis Ababa. The same plane has been seen to operate between Ethiopia and Somalia days after been paraded as a Nigeria Air plane.

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Recently, the House of Representatives (HoR) Committee on Aviation headed by Hon. Nnolim Nnaji summoned the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole to an emergency meeting over the Nigeria Air project. The perm sec who was directed to come with every document and personnel connected with the National Carrier was said to have requested for time to be able to assemble all the necessary documents and individuals connected with the project.

There are also fresh concerns about the airline’s Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in a recent development has rejected Nigeria Air’s request to proceed to phase two in the process of obtaining the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). The regulatory body noted that the airline had not submitted the required documents needed to proceed to the next phase.

With this, it appears NCAA is resolute in ensuring the required standards are maintained in the processing and issuance of the AOC, irrespective of the mighty political power in play.

Hadi Sirika embarked on a very deceitful and shabby job of floating a national airline. It’s just a matter of time to see how this spans out, especially as it is a new era in governance.