We Launched Virgin Nigeria But One Of My Successors Drove Branson Away – Ex-Minister…
Written by City Radio on June 9, 2023
A former Minister of Aviation, Isa Yuguda, has shed light on the events that led to the early demise of Virgin Nigeria.
Founded in 2004 as a replacement for the then-defunct Nigeria Airways, Virgin Nigeria operated as a joint venture between Nigerian investors and British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
However, a feud with the Federal Government led to the Virgin Group pulling out in 2009. This prompted the airline to be renamed Nigerian Eagle Airlines and later Air Nigeria. The business ultimately ceased operations in 2012.
Yuguda, who was the aviation minister under former President Olusegun Obasanjo when Virgin Nigeria was established, made a live appearance on Friday to address the controversy over the unveiling of Nigeria Air.
Nigeria Air was unveiled by then-Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika on May 26, days to the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The project has since come under intense scrutiny with the revelation that the single aircraft showcased at the ceremony was in fact a chartered flight, a development described by one probing lawmaker as fraud.
Arguing that airline businesses are based on economies of scale, Yunuga underscored the need for them to partner with the major players internationally.
According to him, Nigeria might need no less than $200-$300 million to be able to set up an airline that it can call its own.
Pointing out the level of competition in the sector, he listed British Airways, Lufthansa, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines among those he described as “the Big”.
The former minister explained that, as world players, the leading airlines are in alliances, such as SkyTeam and oneworld, allowing them to pool together and form a global network.