Nigerian domestic airlines, led by Air Peace, Max Air, Azman Air, Topbrass Aviation, and United Nigeria Airlines have sued the Federal Government over the selection of Ethiopian Airlines as its national carrier partner.
Recall that the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had explained reason for selecting Ethiopian Airlines, stating that the firm was the only international airline that showed interest and applied to partner with FG.
Sirika said Ethiopian Airlines wasn’t selected from a pool of applicants, “We did not cede Nigeria Air to Ethiopian Airlines,” he said, adding that, “it was the only airline that responded to our request for partnership to run the airline after many months of advertisement of expression of interest.
“Even after some interested persons asked Nigeria to extend the time of EoI and we did, none of them showed interest. Officials of the Ministry of Aviation led by me personally visited some of the leading airlines across the world and pleaded with them to take up the partnership with Nigeria to set up the airline.
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“None of them signified interest except Ethiopian Airlines, which has been allotted 49 per cent shares, while Nigerian institutional investors take up 45 per cent and the Federal Government will take up only five per cent.”
This didn’t sit well with the Airlines of Nigeria (AON), and as a result, they approached the Federal High Court in Lagos on November 11, demanding that the judge terminate the contract between FG and Ethiopian Airlines, as well as N2 billion for damages caused by the selection.
They told the court that the selection of Ethiopian Airlines will affect their market share, as it opens the domestic air travel market to the foreign company.
In the suit, which has Nigerian Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami listed as defendants, the domestic airlines said the Air Transport Licence issued to Nigeria Air by Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) didn’t go through the standard process, and as such, should be withdrawn.
The domestic airlines also informed the court that the minister of aviation is linked to the firm, founded in March 2021, that served as Transaction Adviser for the deal.
Explaining the reason for demanding damages, they said, “for the injury suffered by the Plaintiffs and still suffering as a result of the wrongful exclusion of the Plaintiffs, wrongful action; unlawful bidding and selection processes and their wrongful projection of the plaintiffs as not having properly, rightly and timely bid for the Nigeria Air project.”
Source: Ripples Nigeria