The establishment of the national carrier, Nigeria Air, proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari-led Nigerian government, has been stopped by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
The Nigerian government in 2018 announced plans to establish an airline. The government claimed it would not own more than 5% stake in the airline, ceding control to private investors expected to invest $300 million in the new airline at inception, and the name and logo of Nigeria Air were unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom in July 2018.
But shortly after its proposal, in September 2018, the government changed its mind and announced the suspension of the proposed airline.
Meanwhile, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, in July 2019 said that the airline was discussing and exploring possibilities to establish or support Nigeria Air.
But the registered trustees of the Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON) including Azman Air Services Limited, Air Peace Limited, Max Air Limited, United Nigeria Airline Company Limited, and Topbrass Aviation Limited had filed a suit against the Nigerian government on the deal.
The suit has Nigeria Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, and Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), as the first to fourth defendants.
In his ruling, Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa reordered the Nigerian government and domestic airlines to maintain the status quo in their suit relating to the establishment of the airline pending the determination of the suit.
This came as the Federal Ministry of Aviation declared on Thursday that it would deploy every necessary step to vacate the order that had stopped the ongoing work towards the establishment of the national airline.
The judge on Thursday ordered that the establishment of the national carrier should be stopped and subsequently adjourned the case till February 2023.
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