The Nigerian Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered a temporary freeze on the establishment of Nigeria Air (NWB, Lagos), the federal government's joint venture carrier with Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa International), pending a further court hearing.

Nigerian media report the court granted an interim injunction that prevents Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, the Federal Ministry of Aviation, Nigerian Attorney-General Abubakar Malami, and other defendants from continuing with the launch of the new national carrier.

This follows an application filed on November 11 by the registered trustees of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), including Azman Air, Air Peace, MaxAir (Nigeria), TopBrass Aviation and United Nigeria Airlines to have Nigeria Air's Air Transport License (ATL) revoked on the grounds that the carrier would be anti-competitive and damaging to domestic airlines.

The interim order restrains the “national carrier establishment and agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the strategic equity partner, or giving effect to, and or suspending the sale and transfer of the shares and operations" of Nigeria Air by the government pending further court determination.

The court further issued an "Order of Maintenance of Status Quo by all parties" preventing them from taking any further step(s) pending further court decisions. It also granted an accelerated hearing of the lawsuit.

Sirika earlier in the day told local media that no court could stop anyone from establishing a legitimate business especially as the country sought foreign direct investment. Speaking before the injunction was served, Sirika said: "I have not seen any rational court that would say I am stopping somebody from establishing a company because Nigeria Air is a limited liability company in the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). If anyone wants to invest in that company there is no law in Nigeria stopping them from doing so. You can own a 100%,” he said.

Sources close to the process concurred: "There is no way that a governmental decision following the formal PPP [public-private partnership] process can be stopped by a court. The judge is halting the proces to get the governmental reply, nothing else."