Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) has submitted a proposal to the Nigerian government regarding its nascent Nigeria Air (Lagos) project, chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam has said.

“We are among a small group with an interest in establishing a national carrier (in Nigeria)...we do not know the results (of the tender), though we are frontrunners,” Gebremariam was quoted by Reuters last week.

Nigeria Air will be a Public/Private Partnership (PPP) between the Nigerian state and would-be private investors. It expects to commence flight operations in December this year operating domestic, regional, and international flights.

Unveiling the project during last month's Farnborough Air Show, Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, courted Ethiopian and even Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) over their interest in Nigeria Air.

To ensure longterm viability, and to lure strong private sector participation in the airline, Sirika said government's role in Nigeria Air would be limited to a 5% stake. In addition, it will also have no say in the appointment of the airline's management or operations.

Nigeria has no cap on foreign ownership of locally-flagged airlines and is prepared to offer more than 50% of Nigeria Air to a strategic partner, Tilmann Gabriel, who is helping to coordinate the project, told Bloomberg in an interview at the Farnborough Air Show.

Given the rapidly increasing number of African carriers in which Ethiopian has equity stakes (ASKY Airlines in Togo, Malawi Airlines, Tchadia Airlines, Zambia Airways, and Guinea Airlines), Gebremariam has called for African governments to have equity in Ethiopian Airlines itself.

Speaking to Kenya's Nation newspaper last week, the CEO said it “would be good if African countries such as Nigeria have a share in the company”.

The Ethiopian Aviation Holding Group is among the entities to be partially privatized by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as part of plans to re-energize Ethiopia's economy and to raise much needed hard currency.