The Nigerian government forced us to use Nigeria Air – Ethiopian Airlines

by MMC
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Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, Mesfin Tasew, has accused the previous administration of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari of imposing the Nigeria Air project on him.

LEADERSHIP reports that former Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had launched the airline on May 27, 2023, as it was later discovered that a plane owned by ET was used to conduct a demonstration flight against the requirements of the process of creating a new airline.

Speaking to journalists in Addis Ababa, the airline’s CEO said the East African airline never intended to set up an airline in Nigeria but was invited by the federal government to partner with it to create a national airline, Nigeria Air.

He added that the airline had almost pulled out of the project, but the government had insisted that it continue the process.

Tasew said: “Ethiopian Airlines had no intention or plan to establish an airline in Nigeria. In May 2022, when I took over my current responsibilities (as Group CEO), a request came from the Nigerian government asking Ethopian Airlines to participate in a bid and assist the Nigerian government in establishing a Nigerian national airline.

“Initially we didn’t want to address this. We said we had other initiatives in other countries and we were busy. But the Nigerian government insisted that Ethiopian Airlines is an African airline and that she must help the Nigerian government to establish the national carrier. So we had to respect them. We are serving the Nigerian public and government by flying to four cities in Nigeria; we could not say no, we cannot not come to help you. So we had to submit a proposal, we had to respect the Nigerian government.

“And we thought the Nigerian government had a choice, AND being one, because they had also asked other airlines in the Middle East and Europe to participate in the bid. I don’t know if they participated or not. We submitted our proposal and we received a letter from the Ministry of Aviation informing us that Ethiopian Airlines has been selected as a partner for the establishment of the airline.

“Then the Nigerian government wanted the investor structure to be Nigerian investment institutions and the Nigerian government wanted only 5 percent of the shares to ensure their presence in the airline and facilitate the establishment of the airline. We We had a lot of discussions, we agreed but we had some differences on certain points.

“At one point, the management of Nigeria Air, which does not include Ethiopian Airlines, asked us to bring planes painted with the Nigerian logo to make it easier to obtain the Air Operator Certificate. So we agreed to that, we took one out of our plane, we painted it with the Nigerian logo, we flew it, it was for demonstration by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for their inspection. So, after two days we brought the plane back, repainted it with the Ethiopian logo and it is flying. So while we were here waiting for the court decision, now there has been a change of government.