Nigeria pumps brakes on relaunching national airline

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigeria has suspended plans to relaunch its national airline two months after the attempt to revive the carrier was announced.

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika released a statement on Twitter after Wednesday’s cabinet meeting saying that ministers had made “the tough decision” to suspend the project.

“I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim. All commitments due will be honoured,” Sirika said in a statement on Twitter.

“We thank the public for the support as always,” he added.

The airline, which is set to be called Nigeria Air, was launched with some fanfare at an international air show in July.

It was due to start commercial flights in December.

The plan was for the federal government to own just five percent of the airline in a public-private partnership. The proposal was designed to allow for professional management and avoid previous mistakes.

“This will be a national carrier that is private sector led and driven. It is a business, not a social service,” Mr Sirika said at the time.

The government had planned to launch the project in December to make good on a promise by President Muhammadu Buhari made in the presidential election run up in 2015.