Nigeria to consider using Chinese C919s for new airline

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The third prototype of China’s domestic airliner C919 performs its maiden test flight at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China, December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

MONTREAL (Reuters) – Nigeria will consider buying China’s newly certified C919 airliner as the country’s fledgling airline Nigerian Airlines will take over by around 2025, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said on Saturday. increased to 30 aircraft.

The new airline will have a mix of Airbus and Boeing (NYSE: ) aircraft, Sirika said, but added that the airline is also open to looking into Chinese narrow-body jets certified by Chinese regulators on Friday.

“We haven’t seen that C919. But if it’s as good as the rest, why not,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the UN aviation agency’s triennial assembly in Montreal, Canada.

On Friday, China hailed the development of its first medium-haul passenger jet as a manifestation of the country’s self-sufficiency, with a safety clearance for the plane aimed at challenging orders from Western aircraft giants.

The first C919, designed to compete with popular single-aisle models produced by Airbus and Boeing, will be delivered by the end of this year, the official Xinhua news agency said.

It’s unclear when the plane will be certified in the U.S. or Europe, opening the way for sales in most foreign markets, but industry analysts say it could take up to a decade for China to seriously address existing Boeing-Airbus duopoly.

“China and Nigeria[have]a very cordial and friendly relationship of mutual benefit,” Sirika said.

For decades, China has extended billions of dollars in loans to Africa to build railways, power plants and highways, deepen ties to the continent, and extract minerals and oil.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is the largest importer of Chinese goods, worth $23 billion by 2021.

For decades, Nigeria’s poor transport and power networks have hampered economic growth and hampered the distribution of wealth in Africa’s largest economy, with 40 percent of people living below the national poverty line.

However, Sirika said the country is developing its aviation industry and traffic is now higher than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline was one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 campaign promises.

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