African state airlines: Necessity or folly?

01Aug 2018
By Financial Times Reporter
DAR ES SALAAM
Financial Times
African state airlines: Necessity or folly?

IN May 2017, the Nigerian government announced plans to set up a national airline. Considering the country’s chequered history with such ventures, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

The last time an attempt was made at setting up a national airline, the Nigerian government entered into an arrangement with Virgin Atlantic, a British airline.

It did not end well. And if the objective was to restore the national pride that supposedly comes with a national carrier that too failed. The issues that led the Virgin Group to finally leave Nigeria are complex. When Nigeria had a national airline, it was called “Nigerian Airways” and it was a source of pride.

While African countries like Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa have since then been able to run airlines that by and large meet the mark internationally, Nigeria has floundered ever since Nigeria Airways ceased to exist officially in 2003 (it stopped major operations years before).

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