Court Order Hindering Operation Of Nigerian Air, Says Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines has said that the court case between it and eight Nigerian airlines is hindering the operation of the new carrier, Nigerian Air Limited.
The development was disclosed on Monday in a statement issued by the State House, after President Muhammadu Buahri met with Girma Wake, Ethiopian Airlines Board Chairman in the sidelines of the 36th AU Summit in Addis Ababa.
According to the statement, Wake requested a resolution of the legal obstacle halting Nigeria Air, in which Ethiopian Airlines has 49 per cent stake.
Eight Airlines had pleaded to Federal High Court in Lagos to invalidate the sale of shares of the Nigerian Air to Ethiopian Air after the carrier was awarded 49 per cent of stake in the state-owned airline.
The court in Lagos in November issued an order of interim injunction restraining the Nigerian government from proceeding with the establishment of Nigerian Air.
Based on the ownership structure of Nigerian Air Ltd, the Nigerian investors are MRS, SAHCO and the Nigerian Sovereign Fund (46 per cent), FGN owned 5 per cent and Ethiopian Air 49 per cent, Hadi Siriki, the Minister of Aviation said in September 2022.
“President Buhari told the Board Chairman that it was a ‘weighty decision’ by the Nigerian government to re-launch a national carrier, expressing confidence that ‘things will be alright,’’ the statement said.
The Board Chair also solicited the repatriation of the airline funds trapped in the country over foreign exchange challenges.
Wake also said Ethiopian Air has been treated kindly in Nigeria since it started operations 60 years ago.
“Nigeria is not just a market but a hub for aviation in Africa. Nigeria is a special country and nobody travels more around the globe than Nigerians,’’ Wake said.
Mesfin Tasswe, Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines and Daniel Abebe, Group Vice President Strategic Planning and Alliances, said the airline had plans to expand operations in the country, with additional daily flight services to Lagos from Addis Ababa, as well as Abuja-Addis Ababa.
“Ethiopian Air and its partners are ready to commence operations on Nigeria Air as soon as all the court matters are resolved,” the statement added.