In what seems rather dramtic, the government of Nigeria on Wednesday suspended its controversial national carrier ” Nigeria Air” exactly two months after its official launch.
This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while addressing newsmen. According to Sirika, the decision to suspend the procurement of Nigeria Air, was taken at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
The Minister of aviation had on July 18, unveiled the name and logo of the airline named ‘Nigeria Air’, at the Farnborough Air Show in London. He had announced that the airline would begin operation in December, with an initial capital of $300million.
The launch of the carrier in July attracted mixed reactions among Nigerians with some calling it a political stunt aimed at alleviating the ailing popularity of the incumbent president, Muhamadu Buhari, who will be seeking re-election in the country’s forthcoming polls in 2019.
The national carrier was formerly called Nigeria Airways, founded in 1958 after the dissolution of West African Airways Corporation (WAAC). It held the name WAAC Nigeria until 1971, when it was re-branded to the name it had until it ceased operations in 2003. The government of Nigeria owned a majority of the airline (51%) until 1961, when it boosted its participation in the company to 100% and made it the country’s flag carrier. The demise of the brand was largely due to the introduction of International Monetary Fund policies, along with corruption, mismanagement and overstaffing, leading to massive accumulation of debts.