Nigeria’s national courier has been one full of turbulent rides. The country actually had a national carrier, Nigeria Airways, which disappeared into thin air back in 2003 after mismanagement. This was not the end though, the following year, Nigerian investors and Virgin Atlantic created Virgin Nigeria which was also aborted in 2010 after Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, Sir Richard Branson cited that there was interference from regulators and politicians.
A few years later and the Buhari led country proposed the revival of the national courier under a new name, Nigeria Air. This time around, the government would only own 5% to prevent the mistakes that were made previously and allow professional management of the airline.
“This will be a national carrier that is private sector led and driven. It is a business, not a social service,” said Nigeria’s aviation Minister Hadi Sirika during the launch of what was to be Nigeria Air in July in the UK during the International Air Show.
The first issue arose after the government neglected to secure a domain name for Nigeria Air and a sly Nigerian, bought a couple of domains related to Nigeria Air, including NigeriaAir.ng, NigeriaAir.com.ng, NigeriaAir.com and Nigeria-Air.ng, up for sale at $66,489 (approximately Kes.6.7 Million) each.
In an unexpected twist, the Minister on September 19 broke news on Twitter that the Federal Executive Council (Nigeria’s cabinet) had decided to suspend Nigeria Air indefinitely. “I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Courier Project in the interim. All commitments due will be honoured. We thank the public for the support as always,” read the tweet.
I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim. All commitments due will be honoured. We thank the public for the support as always.🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🇳🇬🇳🇬🇳🇬
— Hadi Sirika (@hadisirika) September 19, 2018
Nigeria Air was expected to start operations in December, having eyed 81 possible routes to fly to. Unfortunately, no solid reason has been given explaining the tough decision made by the government, even as Nigerians took it to Twitter to express their disappointment.