Tax Waivers, Staff Employment: Keyamo exposes unfairness in Nigeria Air deal with Ethiopian Airlines

Festus Keyamo, the Minister of Aviation & Aerospace Development, has stated that specific aspects of the contractual agreement between the Federal Government and Ethiopian Airlines for the floating of Nigeria Air need to be re-examined.

He stated this while addressing inquiries about the status of the airliner during the post-Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting briefing at the State House in Abuja.

The minister specifically mentioned the need to thoroughly examine granted waivers and staffing arrangements.

The minister also stated that the Federal Government will not rush the kick-off of the contentious Nigeria Air as a national carrier until the issues are sorted out.

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He specifically mentioned the need to thoroughly examine granted waivers and staffing arrangements.

Agreement disadvantaged Nigeria

It would be recalled that the Nigeria Air project was suspended by President Bola Tinubu following outrage by Nigerians over the ambiguity of the project.

Offering insights into the status of the airline, Keyamo disclosed that certain aspects of the agreement with the primary stakeholder, Ethiopian Airlines, warranted careful reconsideration for the nation’s benefit.

According to The Nation, the minister emphasized his responsibility to address the concerns raised by various stakeholders, stating that it would be imprudent for him to disregard these concerns.

Keyamo clarified the potential outcomes of the paused Nigeria Air project, highlighting that if the project proceeded according to the existing agreement structure, it would establish a monopoly favouring Ethiopian Air to the detriment of other domestic airlines.

He said: “In the agreement, you are giving tax waivers to Ethiopian Airline coming into Nigeria. They asked for tax waivers for five years and you granted them, to come and compete with your local airline who are paying those heavy taxes. How? You want to create a monopoly? That’s why when they tell you that we want to crash price by… it’s a lie. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

He disclosed that the agreement had stipulated the delegation of employee appointments at all organizational levels to the Ethiopian investors, a circumstance with which he expressed dissatisfaction.

He said: “In the agreement they also made a proposal that they will appoint everybody; top management, everybody Ethiopian, in Nigeria, and we agreed.”

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