The process of setting up Nigeria Air (NWB, Lagos) will remain suspended indefinitely as it was never a genuine Nigerian project and just Ethiopian Airlines trying to fly the Nigerian flag, according to Nigerian aviation minister Festus Keyamo.

"It was not Air Nigeria [sic]. That is the truth. It was never Air Nigeria. It was only painted as Air Nigeria. It was Ethiopian Airlines trying to fly our flag. If it is so, why not allow a local airline to fly our flag? Why bring in a foreign airline to fly our flag? Air Nigeria will be indigenous for the whole of Nigeria and for the full benefit of Nigeria, not with 60% of the profits going to another country. How would that benefit us? It stays suspended and will remain so," he said during a televised ministerial briefing on May 27 to mark the administration's first anniversary under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

ch-aviation requested comment from Ethiopian Airlines.

As recently as March, the Ethiopian carrier still remained optimistic about Nigeria Air commencing flight operations, for which it had acquired three B737-8s. These have been deployed in the meantime at affiliate carriers ASKY Airlines in Togo, Malawian Airlines, and Zambia Airways.

Nigeria Air was proposed by the previous administration under former president Muhammadu Buhari and former aviation minister Hadi Sirika. It aimed to establish a national carrier through a joint venture with a consortium of Nigerian investors, led by Ethiopian Airlines. The project faced legal action from private Nigerian carriers, and it collapsed following a change in government last year.

Festos Keyama ordered the project to be investigated by Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which resulted in the arrest and arraignment of Hadi Sirika and family members on corruption charges involving NGN2.7 billion naira (USD1.94 million).