Allen Onyeama, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Peace, has criticized the recent push for a national carrier in Nigeria, describing it as a moribund and financially draining endeavor. This comes in the wake of the government’s suspension of the Nigeria Air project, which had been launched a few months prior.
The Air Peace boss joined a growing chorus of voices opposing the idea of a national carrier, asserting that the country does not require such a project, given the inherent challenges in running the airline business. Speaking on Thursday’s edition of Channels Television’s Politics Today, Onyeama emphasized that government ownership of a national carrier is an outdated concept that has been abandoned by many countries.
“The national carrier thing connotes government ownership. The government has no business doing the business of commercial airline operations. The national carrier thing is a moribund idea that has been jettisoned several decades ago by countries,” Onyeama remarked.
He further clarified that several airlines bearing country names are merely “flag carriers” and are not owned by nations, dispelling the misconception that they are government-owned entities. According to Onyeama, these airlines were once government-owned but have since been divested, evolving into independent entities.
Expressing his dismay, Onyeama questioned why Nigeria is considering a national carrier in 2023, stating, “Why is my country going backward? In 2023, talking about a national carrier?” He attributed the existence of national carriers in some African countries to a lack of business entrepreneurs with adequate funding.
As discussions around the viability of a national carrier persist, Onyeama’s perspective adds to the ongoing debate on the most effective and sustainable approach to managing commercial airline operations in Nigeria.