The managing Director Nigeria Air, Captain Dayo Olumide, informed Senate Committee on Aviation, Tuesday, that the recently unveiled Nigeria Air launched by former President Muhamadu Buhari was a chattered aircraft from Ethiopia hired for few days to show case the logo to Nigerians and their shareholders.
Captain Dayo disclosed further that for Nigeria to operate an aircraft, the aircraft must be Nigeria registered.
He added that, the particular aircraft that was unveiled was not registered and came into Nigeria with a few days clearance from Ethiopia and was returned after use.
He further stated that Nigeria only has airport license which is one of two licenses required for operating an airline and does not permit one to carry out commercial services operations.
He said, “I will like to address your question first before I go on. The aircraft that came in and left was a legitimate charter flight.
“Anyone of us here if we have a destination wedding in Senegal, we can charter an aircraft. You don’t need to have a licence to do that, you just charter an aircraft, an aircraft you paid for it, it will be brought here, take your passengers and off you go.
“And that is what we did. But in this case, it was to unveil, ever since 2018, all you have ever seen about Nigeria Aircraft were pictures, drawings not the real aircraft, and we thought it was time to show what the real aircraft will look at and also to let shareholders, you see we have institutional investors, they are not in aviation, but they are putting their money for 10 or 15 years and to exit may at the premium. So they need to see what the actual aircraft will look like.
“So we brought it in here to show them what the aircraft will look like. Then the social media dimension came into it.
“It is Ethiopian registered one . Why is it Ethiopian registered. To operate aircraft in Nigeria, they must be Nigerian registered; 5th November. That aircraft was not 5th November registered because it was a chartered flight and it came in with just a few days clearance and off it went.
“For us to get that licence which is my mandate, we must among other things have three aircraft before the NCA will give us a licence and those three aircraft must be Nigerian registered aircraft.
“There are five steps that one goes through to have a licence. We have gone from the first one to the second one but the problem is that when you change what we call post holders, post holders is a technical term for director of maintenance, Chief pilot, when you change them and replace them completely, you have to go back to phase one to interview them to be compliant to the authority, to the civil authority. But haven gone back to phase one doesn’t mean you have done anything thing wrong. That is a correct and normal process.
“So when this aircraft came on a chartered flight, everybody said we have launched Nigeria Air.”
In their remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Biodun Olujimi (PDP Ekiti South ) and Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West) said it was unfortunate for the Nigeria Air project to be shrouded in suspicion.