Business a.m. with wire reports
With an airport in the works in the Lekki area scheduled for delivery in 2025, Lagos State, Nigeria’s richest state by internally generated revenue and GDP size, plans to set up a state-owned airline.
If it goes ahead, Lagos will be the second state in Nigeria to successfully establish an airline after Akwa Ibom State which owns Ibom Air.
Nigeria has one of Africa’s largest domestic aviation sectors, with over 11 active scheduled carriers. The West African country sees at least one startup nearly every year. The federal government has been trying to set up Nigeria Air, the proposed national carrier, for over five years without success. Now, Lagos, the second-largest state by population, wants to establish its own airline, per Simple Flying, a news service devoted to aviation.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu gave a hint to this effect at a recent town hall meeting with various stakeholders. Responding to a query about establishing a state-owned airline, the governor said the plan has been in progress for months.
Sanwo-Olu said: “Over the last five months, the deputy governor and I have been working to put a concise plan together for the establishment of an airline, but we did not make the plan open because of the need to get adequate knowledge about the operational procedures of airlines.
“The business plan is viable, and there is no issue about financing. The conversation has gone to an advanced stage, but we need to get the proper information on operations before we go ahead to implement the plan,” he added.
According to the news service, the state is now looking to receive approval from the federal government and set up operational contingencies for the airline, adding that currently, Akwa Ibom, in southern Nigeria, is the only state with a state-owned carrier. It owns Ibom Air, which it established in 2019. It has grown to become a trusted airline in Nigeria’s domestic aviation sector. Last year, Ibom received the first Airbus A220 owned by a Nigerian airline.
Building another airport in Lagos
Lagos’ state government is also moving forward with plans to construct a new airport. Lekki-Epe International Airport in the Lagos city of Lekki is expected to have a capacity of up to five million passengers. Last month, the Lagos State commissioner for information and strategy disclosed that the state government will “focus on completing ongoing projects across the state in the new year,” including constructing the new airport.
While the plans have been discussed for several years, state officials believe the airport could be complete by 2025. The project has also met resistance from local landowners and various other stakeholders. Currently, Lagos Murtala Muhammed Airport (LOS) is the state and country’s main international airport. Before the pandemic, it welcomed an average of seven million passengers annually.
The last airline to join Nigeria’s domestic market was NG Eagle, which commenced operation in December 2023 with two wet-leased Airbus A320s. On the other hand, the proposed national carrier was supposed to be launched in 2023, before the previous administration’s term ended but has since been suspended by the new aviation minister.