Nigeria needs its own national airline to compete with international carriers taking advantage of the absence of any major airline in west Africa to dominate a lucrative travel market, experts said at the just ended African Aviation Summit 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
According to This Day, over four million people from Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, travel overseas every year and this number is expected to double in the next few years.
With 94 percent of these Nigerian travelers using international airlines experts say a national airline would bring in revenue to the west African nation’s government and also create jobs locally.
Zemedeneh Negatu, a partner at Ernst & Young in Ethiopia, said Nigeria need at least one strong national flag carrier and push some existing private carriers to merger in order to have two strong airlines that could be competitive on the global market.
“We don’t expect the Nigerian government to run those airlines, but Nigeria deserves to have at least one national flag carrier, then support should be given to Arik and Aero to become very large carriers to support Africa’s biggest economy.” This Day quoted Negatu saying.
This will however not be the first time the Nigerian government has tried to set up a national airline.
The country’s state owned airline Nigeria Airways collapsed in 2003 under heavy debt and non-payment of employee salaries. Billionaire Richard Branson’s attempt to revive the airline and rename it Virgin Nigeria also failed.
“Nigeria should follow the style of the Asian tigers, but government must play stronger roles by deploying funds for the development of the industry and also give support to the establishment of the airlines” Negatu said.
Sam Gaya, a legal advisor at African Civil Aviation Commission, said for another Nigerian airline to succeed the government would need to be transparent and ensure there was no corruption in the running of the entity