The Boeing 737-800 series aircraft which the Federal Government flew into Abuja for the unveiling of Nigeria Air belongs to Ethiopia Airlines, according to DailyTrust report.
The aircraft took off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at 9:55am on Friday and landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at 12:43 p.m.
Shortly after the aircraft landed, Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, expressed delight that after “a very long, tedious, daunting and difficult path”, the project had taken off.
He later unveiled the aircraft with registration ET-APL at the General Aviation Terminal of the Abuja airport.
However, checks showed that the aircraft is owned by Ethiopian Airlines. ET-APL is written on the wing of planes operated by Ethiopian Airlines.
Further investigations showed that the aircraft flew for its original airline up till Sunday. It embarked on a trip from Addis Ababa to Tel Aviv in Israel, according to the flight history.
Flightradar, the popular flight tracking website, said the aircraft operated between Tel Aviv and Mogadishu, Somalia, still on May 21, 2023.
On 20th May, it operated both Mogadishu in Somalia and Beirut on 20th May while the previous day it also serviced Beirut, the capital of Lebanon.
Ethiopian Airlines is a majority shareholder in 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.
Domestic airlines, namely Azman Air, Air Peace, Max Air, Topbrass Aviation and United Nigeria Airlines, member airlines of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, argued that the partnership would put them out of business by opening their market to Ethiopian airlines.
Among the list of grievances, the airlines demanded an order of up to N2 billion in damages for “wrongful exclusion and unlawful bidding and selection processes” for the Nigeria Air project.
Although Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had announced that the Nigerian Air aircraft would arrive the country Friday, he was silent on whether or not aircraft was purchased for the project.
But last year he had told journalists that the Federal Executive Council approved the leasing of three aircraft for the carrier.
With DailyTrust report