The government of Nigeria recently asked to forge a partnership with Ethiopian Airlines to re-establish its national airline, which ceased operation in 2012, AIN online, a media company focused on the aviation sector, reported on Friday.Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said that the Nigerian government approached his management for the assistance during a recent visit to Nigeria.
He said that both sides have expressed interest in cooperating.
“There is also the possibility that we may discuss equity investment in the future, but for the time being it is only management contract that is under discussion,” he noted.
One-time flag carrier Air Nigeria ceased operation in 2012 due to financial difficulties, leaving Africa’s second largest economy without a national airline.
Arik Air, the largest private airline in Nigeria, has served as a de-facto national carrier since Air Nigeria’s failure.
However, Arik Air has also suffered from financial difficulties and mounting debt.
Sources close to the negotiations told AIN that an Ethiopian delegation has twice visited Lagos while a high-level Nigerian delegation came to Addis Ababa to discuss how Ethiopian Airlines might assume control of Arik Air’s management.
A member of the Ethiopian delegation that went to Lagos for the negotiation added that the Nigerian authorities wanted Ethiopian to take over Arik immediately to save the airline from collapse.
Ethiopian Airlines is a major player in Nigeria, serving four destinations in Africa’s top oil producing country – namely Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Enugu – from its main hub in Addis Ababa.