Dapo Olumide, chief executive officer (CEO) of Nigeria Air, says the aircraft used for the unveiling of the national carrier was a chartered flight from Ethiopian Airlines.
Speaking when he appeared before a house of representatives committee on aviation on Tuesday, Olumide said the aircraft was returned to Ethiopia about two days after the unveiling.
“It was a chartered flight,” he said.
His remark was a reaction to comments from members of the committee who said the aircraft bore the colours of the Nigerian flag.
Responding, Olumide said: “As a chartered flight, you can paint the aircraft in any colours you want”.
“On a chartered flight, the aircraft was to come to Nigeria to Abuja and go back 48 hours later.”
Olumide also said the necessary procedures for the establishment of a national carrier were not completed before the unveiling.
“We have a five-phase process to go through with the regulator. After the five phases, you can get the AOC certificate. Until then, you do not have an airline. So we are in the five-phase process of getting the airline,” he said.
“We are in stage one. We left stage one but we replaced all the key management of the airline. We replaced all of them. When you replace them, you have to go back to phase one. That is the requirement.
“We have not gotten to phase two yet. We are going to go into phase two but to go into phase two, there are certain documents you must attach to your request. One of which is called the schedule of events. There are other technical documents. We are in the process of putting these together.”
Also speaking, Mohammed Oduwowo, managing director of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), corroborated Olumide’s position.
“We had an approval. We granted the aircraft a flight permit. It was meant to be a chartered flight from Ethiopia to Nigeria. It was a chartered flight. It went back the following day,” he said.
Hadi Sirika, former minister of aviation, unveiled Nigeria Air — the national carrier — about three days before the end of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.