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Nigeria Air: “This is an airline being set up using government as a face”…Iyayi

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….this is not right, the entire process lacks transparency, picking Ethiopia is an embarrassment to us as a nation..Mshelia

Some stakeholders in the aviation industry have continued to vehemently kicked against the choice of Ethiopian Airlines as strategic investor to the yet to be launched National Carrier, Nigeria Air.

At a webinar organized by Avaero Capitals Partners with the theme: Nigeria Air-The Solution to Nigeria’s Aviation Problems? 75% of the participants agreed in a poll that Nigeria need a National carrier while 93% said a foreign investor should not be the largest single share holder in the carrier.

Former Managing Director, Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, NAMA and an airline operator, Mr. Roland Iyayi said, the entire process of selecting a strategic investor for the Nigeria Air and all issues surrounding the carrier has been shrouded in secrecy.

According to him, certain individuals are setting up an airline using government as a face, adding that, this must be stopped before it is too late.

Iyayi said, yes, it has been agreed that the country needs a national carrier to reciprocate all BASAs routes but the manner and the process adopted thus far is wrong.

“This is an airline being set up using government as a face but owed by private individuals that is my contention and I think on that basis, it should be stopped and a more transparent process should be put in place because there is a need to reciprocate all our Bi-lateral Services Agreements, BASAs and Multilateral Agreements in different countries but it should be done in a way that gives the benefits of commonwealth to all and not to a few”.

Giving further reasons why he is not in support of Ethiopia as strategic investor, Iyayi stated that, having a partner is not bad but certainly not a competitor that already has a stronger footing than Nigeria.

He also said, Ethiopia has always eye the Nigerian market with the many attempts made in the past to take it, he cited the Ethiopia airlines approach of Air Peace and being a clog in the will of progress when they blocked Arik Air from operating into Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia will never allow a Nigerian whoever that Nigerian airline is coming out of Nigeria Air to compete, they are not stupid, they know what they are coming to do and they know exactly what they want. And for the records Ethiopian approached Air Peace to have a footprint in the domestic market in Nigeria, such that they were willing to pay Air Peace royalties, Ethiopian tried the same thing in 2018 with Ghanaian Authority and they were thrown out. So the point is, if Ethiopia with all the antecedents in 2017 they block Arik Air from flying into
Ethiopia, they did the same thing again to Air Peace in recent times so, if they are doing all of this to protect their own market and for us to now say come into our market with unfetter access, I believe this is the worst thing that can happen to the Nigeria industry”.

The former NAMA boss emphasized that, the Nigerian investors recently announced are just cover ups.

 “I believe the process till date is not transparent, is shrouded in secrecy all through and the so-called Nigerian investors MRS and SAHCO they are not really investors, they are just names presented by the Government to say we have other people, Sovereign Wealth Fund, was supposed to be part of this as soon as the announcement was made within an hour of that announcement the sovereign wealth fund came out that they had nothing to do with it. Invariably this tells me that,
something is not right with the entire process”.

“Let’s go back to the preamble of the ICAO Convention, it talks about the fact that whilst it is good to encourage friendships with other nations and if that is viewed it will become and can become  a threat to national security, l see this that is being done presently  by the Hadi led administration to be a threat to the national security of the country, I also see it as a way to decimate the domestic market such that they are trying to give a dog a bad name just to  hang it, they have said all sorts of things, I disagree with them. If any of them were astute enough as a business person, I would have expected that
with the expertise they propounding to have to set up an airline”.

In his contribution, another airline operator and Chairman, Westlink Airline, Capt, Ibrahim Mshelia while noting that having a National carrier was a welcome development but said the way they are going about it is not right.

He noted that, Ethiopian airline is supported by the government and the Nigerian operators have been crying all along that government should support the airlines and if they have done so the way the other airlines are supported, Nigerian carriers will form flag carriers and government will have no reason to even go into this project in the first place.

Mshelia said, “But we are refusing to accept that what we are doing in Nigeria is wrong and others will continue to take advantage of us and our market”.

“Ethiopian airlines should be cancelled, they cannot be and shouldn’t be a strategic investor, it is an embarrassment for us as a nation with such potential and we have the ability to be able to fund our airline properly the way Ethiopian is doing  and we will be able to do things right and then we allow an African country that are doing the things right and rather than us do the things right and fix it, we are now allowing them to come and show us, what will they show us? We should not accept that Ethiopian should do it”.

“If they want to do it, let an individual Ethiopian businessman or somebody put in money no problem but not Ethiopian airlines”, he added.

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