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IconJanuary 4th, 2023
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Nigeria’s Air Court Case Delayed Until February 2023

Nigeria Air has announced that it won’t launch until February. That’s because the airline has faced legal resistance to its establishment, which led to a postponement of its case with the Nigerian Federal High Court. So, let’s take a closer look at this story below. Nigeria Air has postponed their case against one of their competitors. Nigerian Airlines was recently granted an interim court injunction blocking its establishment. It doesn’t mean that the airline has given up trying, however. When it comes to national airlines in Nigeria, competition is a difficult hurdle to pass through – and with the new deadline, Nigeria Air will have to wait a little longer before it can start flying.

In his report, Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa said that

“I’ve reviewed all the applications before me. In these circumstances, the proper thing to do is for the parties to maintain the status quo pending this suit’s determination.” On November 11th, members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), including Azman Air, AirPeace, Maxair, United Airlines and TopBrass Aviation, filed a suit against four defendants – Nigeria Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika and Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami. The defendants were given a 30-day period to respond, but the lawsuit is clearly complicated enough to warrant further review.

If a president’s company is opposing Nigeria Air, what is the reasoning behind this?

The case against Nigeria Air is controversial, to say the least. Plaintiffs claim they were unfairly excluded from unlawful bidding and selection processes, citing wrongful projection of plaintiffs as not having properly bid for the project. While Ethiopia’s government is looking to invest in potentially more profitable Nigerian airlines, local operators believe that these private operators should solely be owned by Nigerians. However, the proposed plans would result in 46 percent of the company being owned by private investors and only five percent by the Nigerian government. Group Captain John Ojikutu is the former commandant at Mohammed Murtala International Airport. He told Punchng that “The five percent shareholding by Ethiopia on behalf of its people on our behalf will not put us anywhere, while the country is taking 49 percent off our backs and three individuals are together having 46 percent. From what I’m envisioning, foreign partnership shareholding is about 72 percent (the Ethiopians share) while our own is about 28 percent.” The Nigerian government makes a controversial argument that Ethiopia Airlines’ experience will be beneficial to their new national carrier.

Many difficulties

Nigeria’s Air’s establishment has been a bit of a bumpy process, ending up in doubt in just a few months and only returning last year. In June, when the carrier was officially granted its air operator’s license to operate flights in Ethiopia, the airline confirmed that African Airlines, headquartered in Nigeria, would partner with the company. In September, the company announced the launch of plans to reach out to investors and launch operations by May 29th, 2023.

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