The Nigerian aviation minister, Hadi Sirika has confirmed that the country’s newly national airline, Nigeria Air will be launch in May.
The comments came at the 2023 National Aviation Stakeholders Forum, where Nigerian Minister of Aviation also confirmed that the government was releasing more funds due to foreign airlines.
The country’s original flag carrier, Nigeria Airways, collapsed twenty years ago, and efforts have been underway for several years to revive it.
The original airline was rebranded into Nigeria Airways in 1971 following the dissolution of West African Airways Corporation, which was founded in 1958. Nigeria Airways was also based at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, home of the upcoming Nigeria Air, and operated for 45 years before ceasing operations in 2003.
The minister expressed his excitement for the new airline to create additional employment opportunities. Mr Sirika claimed in his comments that Nigeria was the only country where qualified pilots struggle to find work, as countries worldwide struggle with pilot shortages.
Upwards of 50 pilots have approached the aviation minister complaining about their unemployment status, which he said underscores the point that the national carrier should be able to employ more pilots and create other job opportunities.
The minister continued by promising the national carrier will contribute to Nigeria’s gross domestic product, grow the hospitality and tourism industries, promote the agricultural sector, and create more jobs. A separate study has found the country’s aviation sector is vital to the national economy by providing 241,000 direct and indirect jobs and an annual contribution of $1.7 billion.
The upcoming airline has faced several setbacks, including a legal challenge from local airlines that feel they were unjustly excluded from the bidding process. Sirika on Thursday, however, expressed his firm determination to have the airline running by the end of May