Despite skepticisms that have greeted the new Nigeria national carrier, Nigeria Air, the promoters seem to be plodding along quite well.

On Friday, it came to light that one of Africa’s most successful airlines, Ethiopian Airlines is the front-runner to set up and manage the new national carrier for Nigeria.

Ethiopian Airline’s Chief Executive, Tewolde Gebremariam disclosed this himself.

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“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,” told a news conference on Friday.

The state-owned carrier has outpaced regional competitors Kenya Airways and South African Airways to become Africa’s largest airline by revenue and profit, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The airline has been buying shares in other African airlines, a strategy aimed at gaining a competitive advantage against rivals such as those in the Gulf.

Ethiopian Airlines already has contracts for maintenance work with two Nigeria-based carriers, Arik Air and Medview Airline, he said.

In May, Tewolde told Reuters that the airline was in talks with Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea to set up carriers through joint ventures.

It aimed to create a new airline in Mozambique that it will fully own, the chief executive said at the time.

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