President Muhammadu Buhari-led Nigerian government has committed a major blunder in its usual deception of Nigerians by unveiling a Boeing 737-800 series aircraft as the “Nigerian Air” which actually belongs to Ethiopia Airlines.
SaharaReporters learnt that the plane unveiled as Nigerian Air is over 10 years old and belongs to Ethiopian Airlines.
According to information obtained by SaharaReporters from Plane Spotters, a platform which takes an inventory of aircraft, “The Registration Number is ET-APL and the Mode is S Q4005C. The Serial Number: 40965/4075. The first flight was an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft. Then it became Malawi Airlines on 16th February 2014. It was then acquired again by Ethiopian Airlines in 2015 and has been operating under Ethiopian Air since then.
“Then on the 26th of May 2023, it has Nigeria Air colours without changing ownership. It was first spotted in South Africa before it flew to Nigeria today.”
The aircraft took off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at 9:55 am on Friday and landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at 12:43 pm.
Also, Flightradar, the popular flight tracking website, said the aircraft operated between Tel Aviv and Mogadishu, Somalia, still on May 21, 2023.
On the 20th of May, it operated both Mogadishu in Somalia and Beirut while on the previous day, it also serviced Beirut, the capital of Lebanon.
Ethiopian Airlines is a majority shareholder in the Nigeria Air project. It has a 49% stake, a structure which made domestic airlines under the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) file a suit against the Federal Government.
According to the ownership structure, two Nigerian companies hold a 46% stake while the remaining 5% stake is held by the Federal Government.
SaharaReporters earlier reported that Nigerian airline operators wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the aviation minister from going ahead with his plan to launch Nigeria Air, the country’s national carrier, before May 29, 2023, when the President is scheduled to leave office.
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had accused the aviation minister of planning to ensure the launch of the airline on May 27, 2023.
A letter written through their lawyers and signed by Abubakar Nuru Ahmad Esq of Nureini Jimoh Chambers accused Sirika of attempting to disobey a court order.
In the letter dated May 24, 2023, the AON urged the President to stop Sirika’s plan to launch the project before the end of Buhari’s administration on May 29.
The statement further said that Sirika would be charged with contempt for attempting to disobey a court order, regardless of whether he is in office or not.
In April, the Federal High Court in Lagos ruled that no step should be taken concerning the project after a lawsuit was instituted against the project by the AON.
The suit alleged that there were “shady deals, deliberate infraction of the Nigerian laws and self-enrichment/corruption, mainly against the Federal Ministry of Aviation over the Nigerian Air Project.”