Nigeria air

Nigeria Air: Ethiopian Airlines Chairman Meets Buhari, Gives Fresh Conditions

Ethiopian Airlines chairman seeks resolution of court cases and repatriation of trapped funds due to Nigeria's foreign exchange issues.

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday in Addis Ababa met with Girma Wake, Ethiopian Airlines Board Chairman, during which they exchanged views on how to operationalize the troubled national carrier – Nigeria Air.

The national carrier project has been in abeyance, following  series of litigation by domestic airlines challenging Federal Government’s lack of transparency in selecting foreign partners for its take-off.   Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had kicked against the move which they said was skewed to put domestic airlines out of business. Some government officials were also accused of corrupting the process and having undisclosed stakes in the project.

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But the Presidency in a statement on Monday morning said President Buhari has received assurances from the chairman of Ethiopan Airlines that once the court cases are resolved and the company’s trapped funds repatriated, the airline would rejoin the project.

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Presidential aide, Shehu Garba in an early morning statement on Monday, February 20, said  Ethiopian Airlines Chairman, Wake, had requested a resolution of the legal obstacle halting Nigeria Air, in which Ethiopian Airlines has 49% stake, from commencing operations.

He also requested the repatriation of the airline funds trapped in the country over foreign exchange challenges.

On Nigeria Air, Garba shehu  disclosed that President Buhari told the Board Chairman  that it was a ‘weighty decision’ by the Nigerian government to re-launch a national carrier, expressing confidence that ‘‘things will be alright.’’

Wake , who met with President Buhari on the margins of the 36th AU Summit, said the airline has been treated very well in Nigeria since it started operations 60 years ago in the country.

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‘‘Nigeria is not just a market but a hub for aviation in Africa. Nigeria is a special country and nobody travels more around the globe than Nigerians,’’ he said.

The aviation chief, who was accompanied on the visit by Mesfin Tasswe, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines and Daniel Abebe, Group Vice President Strategic Planning and Alliances, hinted that the airline had plans to expand operations in the country, with additional daily flight services to Lagos from Addis Ababa, as well as Abuja-Addis Ababa.

He said the airline and its partners are ready to commence operations on Nigeria Air as soon as all the court matters are resolved.

Uduegbunam Chukwujama
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