Dayo Olumide, the acting Managing Director of Nigeria Air, has finally revealed that the aeroplane which arrived at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on May 26th, 2023, was chartered from Ethiopia. Just a few weeks ago, an aircraft bearing the Nigeria Air logo had been spotted in Abuja, sparking curiosity among the public.
Addressing Tuesday’s Senate Committee on Aviation, Olumide clarified that the plane had been chartered from Ethiopian Airlines as part of the initial steps to launch Nigeria’s official airline. He emphasized that his primary responsibility is to obtain the necessary operating license for the airline, which is still in its early development stages.
“It is a pleasure to be here and to finally make our position known where I can clarify all the misconceptions regarding Nigeria Air as it pertains to the technical aspects of it.
“As you know, this airline was launched with the logo in 2018. Several things have transpired since then that has nothing to do with me.
“I was invited last February; my mandate is to secure an air operating certificate for the airline, not necessarily to operate the airline but to secure a licence to fly. And that is entirely my responsibility.”
In response to Senator Olujimi, who serves as the Chairman of the Committee on Aviation, Dayo Olumide shared his perspective on the matter and acknowledged the element of suspicion surrounding the Nigeria Air arrangement.
During the exchange, Olumide addressed Senator Olujimi’s question by clarifying that the aircraft in question, which sparked the ongoing conversation, did not necessitate an operating license as it had been hired or chartered for the purpose.
“You don’t need to have a licence to do that; you just charter an aircraft, an aircraft you paid for it; it will be brought here, take your passengers, and off you go.
“And that is what we did. But in this case, it was to unveil. Ever since 2018, all you have ever seen about Nigeria Aircraft were pictures and drawings, not the real aircraft, and we thought it was time to show what the real aircraft will look like and also to let shareholders know.
“You see, we have institutional investors, they are not in aviation, but they are putting their money for 10 or 15 years, and to exit may be at the premium. So they need to see what the actual aircraft will look like.
“So we brought it in here to show them what the aircraft will look like. Then the social media dimension came into it.
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“It is an Ethiopian-registered one. Why is it Ethiopian-registered? To operate aircraft in Nigeria, they must be Nigerian registered; on November 5th. That aircraft was not on November 5th registered because it was a chartered flight, and it came in with just a few days’ clearance and off it went.
“For us to get that licence which is my mandate, we must, among other things, have three aircraft before the NCAA will give us a licence, and those three aircraft must be Nigerian-registered aircraft.”
“There are five steps that one goes through to have a licence. We have gone from the first one to the second one, but the problem is that when you change what we call post holders.
“Post holder is a technical term for director of maintenance or chief pilot; when you change them and replace them completely, you have to go back to phase one to interview them to be compliant to the authority, to the civil authority. But haven gone back to phase one doesn’t mean you have done anything thing wrong. That is a correct and normal process.
“So when this aircraft came on a chartered flight, everybody said we have launched Nigeria Air.
“There are learned people in the aviation industry who could have countered that when social media came out, they chose not to.”