Nigeria’s leadership transition stalls Ethiopian airlines’ ambitious partnership

Ethiopian Airlines Group officials are eagerly anticipating the green light from Nigeria’s new administration to grant approval for their partnership with Nigerian Air to move forward.

Last year, Ethiopian Airlines successfully won a bid and reached an agreement to acquire a 49 percent stake in Nigerian Air, an upcoming flag carrier. The remaining stakes are held by the Nigerian government, private sector, and institutional investors.

The target date for Nigerian Air to commence operations was set for October 3023. Despite facing some challenges from local operators, Ethiopian Airlines has made commendable progress in laying the groundwork for the new airline.

However, since Nigeria’s recent change in leadership, with President Bola Tinubu assuming office after Muhammadu Buhari, the partnership project between Ethiopian Airlines and the Nigerian government has encountered an unexpected hurdle.

The new administration decided to suspend the project, causing a setback in the planned collaboration.

In the wake of Nigeria’s recent change in government, the new officials, as fresh entrants to the political landscape, have temporarily pressed pause on the project, citing the need for a comprehensive review and approval process, according to the statement sent by the Group to The Reporter.

“This is a customary practice when a country undergoes a change in government. Therefore, we are patiently awaiting the green light from the new administration to proceed,” the statement reads.

The Group is yet to commit capital to the project thus far.

“Given that the Shareholders’ Agreement has not been finalized, all potential shareholders, including Ethiopian Airlines, have not yet paid the share of Nigeria Air,” emphasized the Group in their response to The Reporter’s inquiry.

The airline further reaffirmed its longstanding commitment as a pan-African carrier to bolstering the aviation industry across the continent.

“To this effect, we have been and will continue to partner with African governments and investors to establish national airlines in different countries,” it said.

Ethiopian Airlines Group has already forged successful partnership operations with ASKY in Togo, Air Congo, Malawian Airlines, and Zambian Airlines. These partnerships involve capital investments and management contracts, highlighting Ethiopian Airlines’ commitment to fostering strong alliances within the African aviation sector.

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