The Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Mesfin Tasew has said that the Nigerian Government did not pay the carrier any money to repaint the plane for Nigeria Air.
This is contrary to the speculations that billions were paid to paint a livery for the Airline.
Tasew who spoke to selected journalists from Nigeria in Addis Ababa yesterday disclosed that Nigerian Air requested for a plane for the display.
Nigerian Air was already set up before ET was invited to bid for partnership. ET as at now has not signed a full shareholders agreement with Nigeria but as an aspiring Partner was invited to support.
He said: “At one point, that leadership of Nigeria Air, which doesn’t include Ethiopian Airlines, asked us to bring aircraft painted with Nigerian logo to facilitate the progress of the Air Operators’ Certificate. So, we agreed with that, we took out one of our aircraft, we painted it with Nigerian logo, we flew it, it was for demonstration by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for their inspection. So, after two days, we brought back the aircraft, repainted it with Ethiopian logo and it is flying.
“So, while we were here, waiting for the decision of the court, now there was a change of government that took place. New ministers, high government officials and they came and told us, look, there are concerns from people. So, temporarily they wanted to suspend the project. We said fine. I had to travel to Abuja to talk to the authorities to listen to what their intention and plan is. And they told us that they are not cancelling the project but that they wanted to study it and address the concerns of the public.”
Tasew further stated that the airline had no intention of setting up an airline in Nigeria but the government insisted that it has to be part of the process.
He said: “In the first place, it was not our initiative, it was the initiative of the government. Now, if the government wants us to cancel the project, it is fine with us. We have no problem. If the government want us to continue with the project, the government has to solve the legal case in court. Otherwise, we are willing to support the Nigerian government in the establishment of the national carrier. So, we leave the decision to the Nigerian government. We have no issues; we will not be disappointed if it is cancelled. We are just there to help. And if the parties ask us to help, change their mind, change its strategy, we are fine with that. This is what we told the Minister; that we respect whatever decision of the Nigerian government.