The Interim Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Capt Dapo Olumide, has addressed concerns regarding the unveiling of the country’s national carrier at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on 26th May 2023.
Speaking to the Committee on Aviation on Tuesday, Olumide stated unequivocally that the aircraft used for the unveiling was a legitimate chartered flight from Ethiopian Airlines and had been returned to them afterward.
Olumide said, “The aircraft was a chartered flight. Of course, as an airline, you can make the colour anything you like. If you are going for a destination wedding, and you chartered an airline to take your guest to Accra. If you pay, you can have the tail painted with the picture of your wife. It does not matter. It is a chartered flight.
“The aircraft was to come to Nigeria, Abuja and return in 48 hours. It has nothing to do with the airline’s launch; it is in phases. It has a process to go through with the regulators; we have phases one, two, three, four and five until you get the AOC certificate. Until then, you don’t have an airline. This is not a launch of the airline, we have no airline, and we have not been selling tickets,” he said.
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The Committee members expressed its misgivings towards the unveiling of the national carrier during a meeting with Olumide; the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, Emmanuel Meribole; as well as heads of aviation agencies.
At the meeting, the Chairman of the Senate Aviation Committee, Senator Biodun Olujimi wondered why the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika hurriedly unveiled a national carrier on the last day of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Also, the Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, said the launch of Nigeria Air is a fraud.
He stated this after meeting stakeholders in the aviation sector who largely denied knowledge of the launch.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Aviation said Nigeria Air was only unveiled and not launched.
Responding to the Committee, Capt Dapo Olumide said Nigeria Air was unveiled at the time it was to prove to Nigerians that the project is not a fluke.