Renowned Nigerian activist Deji Adeyanju has called on President Bola Tinubu to reverse what he describes as a questionable partnership between Ethiopian Airlines and Nigeria’s national carrier, Air Nigeria. In an open letter addressed to the president on Monday, the Kogi-born activist criticized the manner in which Nigeria Air was conceived and introduced, suggesting that homegrown airlines like Air Peace should have been chosen as the national carriers instead of Ethiopian Airlines.
Adeyanju appealed to President Tinubu to take immediate action and undo “the dubious partnership initiated by the Buhari administration” with Ethiopian Airlines.
“As you may be aware, a few weeks before former President Muhammadu Buhari exited office, Nigerians were serenaded by news of the bogus establishment of Nigeria Air, a scheme conceived and implemented by the Muhammadu Bauhari-led government.
“However, recent events have shown that not only was the establishment of the airline dubiously packaged by the Buhari administration, but also the shareholding structure has the likelihood of impacting negatively on the country’s national economy, with very grave consequences for our country’s well-being.
“Before going into the economic implications, I would like to draw your attention, sir, to the choice of Ethiopian Airlines as the majority shareholder of Nigeria Air. In an unprecedented manner and against all known norms across major national airlines in the world, the immediate past administration sanctioned a shareholding structure that saw Ethiopian Air, another nation’s national airline taking over 50% of what purports to be a Nigerian national carrier. An aberration! All over the world, National Carriers are either fully owned or majorly owned by the host countries.
“The Buhari government sanctioned this arrangement despite being aware that there exist domestic airlines, such as Air Peace, that not only have the capacity but equally the experience and international clout to transform into a National Airline. Air Peace has, at various times in our nation’s history, come to the aid of the country by airlifting countrymen and women from disaster or war-torn countries like Libya, Ukraine, Sudan, South Africa, etc. Yet, the Buhari government found the airline unworthy of being transformed into a National Airline!
“It is noteworthy that Ethiopian Air, which is currently Africa’s leading airline, recorded a jump of 90% in net profit to 937,000,000 USD during the 2021/2022 financial year, while its total revenue surged by 79% to 5,000,000,000 USD. This is a 90% profit growth despite the worsening global economic crisis, rising fuel costs, and even the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In 2022, British Airways generated over 11,000,000,000 Pounds in revenue which was below its 2019 revenue, pre-COVID era. China Eastern Airlines made 8,000,000,000 USD in 2022 while its close rival Air China made 8,362,000,000 USD, a 31.36% decline in its revenue of 2021 which was 12,183,000,000 USD.
“Furthermore, the importance of having a National Carrier cannot be overemphasized, however, such a national initiative must be run by Nigerians for the benefit of Nigerians and the development of Nigeria, and not Ethiopia or any other country.
“The only Nigerian commercial airline permitted to travel outside Nigeria is Air Peace which travels to only about 6 to 7 destinations, mainly African Countries. As recently disclosed by the founder of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, the airline was denied permits to fly Nigerians to London and other destinations after several requests to the Ministry of Aviation, Mr. President sir, you will agree with me that something is indeed fundamentally wrong with our country!
“Imagine for a moment, Mr. President, the possibility of having a National Carrier with hundred planes in its fleet fully run by Nigeria and Nigerians flying to every corner of the world and the dignifying pride that comes with it for our Nation and its people coupled with numerous economic and social benefits that such an initiative would do to our GDP.