Nigeria Air is now only one step away from launching after receiving its Air Transport Licence at the start of the month
Flag Carrier Receives ATL
Nigeria’s much anticipated national carrier, Nigeria Air, has moved one step closer to launching. The airline received an Air Transport Licence (ATL) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on 3 June 2022, “signalling the end of the beginning of operations of the Airline”, according to Nigerian Minister for Aviation Hadi Sirika.
The carrier now has only to receive its Air Operators Certificate (AOC) before it can begin operations. Nigeria Air applied for an AOC back in April and expects to obtain certification within the next few weeks.
The ATL is a document that specifies whether a carrier will operate domestically or internationally and what kind of services they will be providing. An AOC is a certificate given by a country’s aviation authority that permits an airline to operate commercially, usually involving an audit and a safety evaluation. Both qualifications are required for an airline to fly.
When Will It Start?
The launch date for Nigeria Air has been pushed back again and again since its inception in 2018. Nigeria’s Minister for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has suggested that the airline could begin operations as soon as mid-July. Following news of the newly-acquired ATL, the minister tweeted that the “commencement date of domestic operations will be announced in due course”.
Other commentators aren’t so confident about the July start date. Michael Ohiani from the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission says the airline won’t start until mid-2023. Nigeria Air’s original launch date was April 2022, later pushed back to 2023, and recently forward again to July 2022. It’s no wonder people are skeptical. However, Dr. James Odaudu, Special Assistant to Hadi Sirika, is quick to address these doubts, telling the Guardian:
“Yes, people are wondering if we will still keep to the July date. Sure, the date remains and the extension will not affect the starting date because there is interim management in place to hand the airline over to the bidder once the process has been completed. We remain on course.”
Nigeria Air will be 51% government-owned, with the rest of the shares going to private stakeholders. Airlines such as Emirates and Qatar have expressed an interest, though the shortlist of bidders has not yet been released. It is estimated that $250 million will be required to launch the airline.
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