Nigeria Would Consider Acquiring China Made C919 Passenger Jets

Nigeria would consider buying China’s newly certified C919 passenger jet as it aims to grow the country’s fledgling flag carrier Nigeria Air to 30 planes by 2025, the country’s Aviation Minister Sirika said on Saturday. He added that the airline would have a fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, but underlined that it would be willing to look at the C919, which was certified by Chinese regulators last week. “We haven’t looked at that C919. But if it’s as good as the others then why not?” Sirika said.

On Friday, China hailed the development of its first medium-haul passenger jet as the embodiment of the country’s drive towards self-sufficiency, with safety approval awarded to a plane that aims to compete with Western aircraft majors for orders. The first C919 aircraft is expected to be delivered by the end of the year.

While it is uncertain when it would, if it could, receive certification from Europe and the United States, it would be up to a decade before it can seriously compete with the Boeing-Airbus duopoly.

“China and Nigeria (have a) very cordial and friendly relationship with mutual benefits,” Sirika said.

China has loaned billons of dollars to Africa for decades through its Belt and Road Initiative to build infrastructure as it strengthened ties with the continent while extracting minerals and oil.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is the top importer of Chinese goods, $23 billion worth in 2021.

Nigeria’s poor transport and power networks have slowed down economic growth for decades, holding back the distribution of wealth in Africa’s biggest economy where 40% of people live below the national poverty line.

However, the country has been aiming to grow its aviation industry, where air traffic is now above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. The airline is one of President Buhari’s 2015 election campaign promises.

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