How airline operators sabotaged national carrier, Nigeria Air

Mixed reactions have trailed the past Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika’s tenacity to float the national carrier, Nigeria Air.

While there has been an alleged orchestrated plan by some airline operators to run a campaign of calumny against the national carrier, Nigeria Air, some air experts observed that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has made good its threat and incited Nigerians against Nigeria Air and Hadi Sirika.

An industry analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity in an interview alleged that over N500 million has been budgeted by some airlines to run a huge media campaign with the sole purpose of killing Nigeria Air and tarnishing the integrity of Sirika.

Accordingto him, “Over N500 million has been set aside for a huge campaign to frustrate Nigeria Air. These same individuals are also bent on dragging the image of the Minister into the mud. This is despite the huge patronage the minister accorded local airlines while he was in office.”

He said the Minister protected local airlines and worked hard for them to get incentives, which include waivers in duties and VAT on aircraft and spares.

He also ensured they got COVID palliative even when federal government agencies under the Ministry of Aviation didn’t get as much support from the government. Private airlines for a bailout for free brokered by the Minister” our source said.

It was reported that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) led by the founder of Azman Airline and the President of Azman Group, Dr. Abdulmunaf Yunusa, and the Chairman/CEO of Air Peace Airline, Allen Onyema who is the Vice President AON, have waged a relentless war to frustrate Nigeria Air.

The AON had also taken the Federal Ministry of Aviation to court and obtained an injunction to stop the process leading to the successful takeoff of the airline.

The AON had also written to the immediate-past President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the Nigeria Air process.
The AON in a letter to the then President wrote: “As your excellency is well aware, the administration will hand over on Monday, May 29, 2023 but the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, is planning to circumvent the court orders on Friday 26th May 2023 being the last working day of this administration and possibly to cover up the various infractions of Nigerian laws, amongst others.”

The AON tasked the President to stop the aircraft unveiling or risk “controversies on the action after the administration would have expired.”

When Blueprint sampled opinion of air passengers, some expressed excitement over the planned national carrier as they hope Nigeria Air will help reduce air tickets that have spiked.

Another passenger , Hassan Mohamed said the local airlines might be afraid ET will cash the cost of local tickets thus, they don’t want that to happen.

Some passengers said that based on ET’s long years of operations, they would deploy the right equipment for Nigeria Air, run cost-effective operations, and charge relatively lower fares.”

“These local airlines want to continue to milk us. This is why they don’t want a national carrier. We want the national carrier to help us end the suffocation by local airlines. Nigeria Air will liberate the industry” he said.