The certification process of Nigeria Air (NWB, Lagos) - the federal government's nascent joint venture with a consortium led by Ethiopian Airlines - is expected to resume in September following the swearing-in on August 21 of new Aviation Minister Festus Keyamo, insiders have told ch-aviation.

It is hoped that Keyamo will end the current limbo surrounding Nigeria Air, whose finalisation of certification awaits the resolution of a legal challenge before the Abuja High Court from five private carriers under the umbrella of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON). They secured an interdict against the government in November 2022, suspending the creation of the new flag carrier, citing anti-trust grounds. However, those in the know believe Nigeria Air's stalled process towards obtaining an air operator's certificate (AOC) will continue in early September, as everything has been prepared.

Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Mesfin Tasew recently told Bloomberg TV that Nigeria Air would commence operations in October 2023.

It is hoped, industry sources told ch-aviation, the new aviation minister will calm political forces that sought to scapegoat former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika for chartering a Nigeria Air-branded Ethiopian B737-800 for a demonstration flight. The establishment of Nigeria Air as a 51/49 public-private partnership between the federal government and a consortium of Nigerian investors led by Ethiopian Airlines is overseen by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), an agency of the Nigerian federal government responsible for the development and implementation of PPPs.

A senior advocate, columnist, human rights activist, former Minister of State for Niger Delta, and Federal Minister of Labour and Employment under ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, Keyamo was appointed in his new portfolio by the new President Bola Tinubu on August 16, 2023. He is described as a stalwart of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

According to the Nigerian Tribune newspaper, apart from guidance relating to the nascent national carrier, Keyamo will have to address the Nigerian aviation and aerospace sector's challenges, which include inadequate infrastructure, safety concerns, shortage of a skilled workforce, regulatory issues, limited funding, security threats, inefficient airspace management, lack of connectivity to remote regions, an ageing fleet, and corruption, collectively hindering the growth, safety, and sustainability of the industry.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has been getting its house in order ahead of a scheduled Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) audit of the NCAA by the ICAO at the end of August. audit of the NCAA by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) at the end of August. The NCAA has been vocal in applying and adjusting regulations, including upping minimum fleet sizes, insurance coverage, and suspending operations of MaxAir (Nigeria) (VM, Katsina) after a safety audit.