It was a case of mixed feelings for those who witnessed the arrival of Ethiopian Airline’s latest A350-900, the newest aircraft in the world at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport last week.
The arrival of the plane was celebrated with pump and pageantry with a colorful water canon shower displayed by the officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to welcome the aircraft to Nigeria.
According to the General Manager, Ethiopian Airlines in Nigeria, Solomon Bengashaw, the arrival of the plane in Nigeria made Nigeria the first in Africa with Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to receive the aircraft.
Still speaking on the occasion, Bengashaw maintained that Nigeria was favoured to receive the newest Aircraft in the world, just as he did not waste time in declaring year 2016 as a year of major milestone achievements for the African airline.
“As a pan-African airline, Ethiopian, is committed to introduce the continent with the latest and most advanced aviation technologies and systems of the century. Ethiopian Airbus is beginning to roar on the African skies and beyond, the question is which city is to host this state-of-the-art aircraft first in African soil. Indeed the answer is obvious and you all are here to witness and confirm that the first African Airbus A-350-900 arrived on the soil of Nigeria, particularly Lagos for first time ever. It’s also another honor and milestone for Ethiopian airlines, Nigerians and particularly Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMI to welcome the first commercial flight of the A350 to the land of Lagos.”
There is no doubt that Ethiopian has been able to position itself solidly not only on the continent but even amongst the so called successful airlines in Europe and America in view of the excellent and well coordinated manner the airline is being run by Ethiopian born professionals.
It is no longer news that Ethiopian flies to many countries around the world competing favourably with the likes of British Airways, Emirates, United Airlines of this world.
In other words, Ethiopian Airlines has been able to prove to the developed world that there is hope for the black race.
Therefore, it a case of mixed grills when the airline landed the newest plane in Lagos last week with some people wandering if the feat was actually achieved by a fellow African carrier.
In Africa it has almost become impossible for any airline on the continent to operate successfully due to barrage of reasons ranging from corruption, lack of patriotism to sheer individualism amongst numerous other reasons.
These can be traced to the poor performances displayed by the African carriers with many after operating for few years ended up collapsing.
Therefore, a ray of hope flashed through the minds of those who witnessed the arrival of Ethiopian last week that Africans can actually succeed if they are determined.
While the celebration was ongoing, among the questions most people who gathered there asked included; where does Nigeria, the giant of Africa belong in this critical sector and why is it so difficult for Nigeria to succeed in this sector if other smaller African countries like Ethiopia is making waves?
Besides, while the Ethiopian government in view of its consistency and resolute to sacrifice anything to keep the flag of the airline flying all over the world, reverse has been the case here in Nigeria where government will say one thing about floating a new national carrier after the unwise killing of the former one 13 years ago today and shift the goal post tomorrow.
For the doubting Thomases who say Nigeria can not have another national carrier for archaic reasons, if Ethiopia is doing this well why won’t Nigeria do same or is it that bad that nothing good can come out of the country. The answer is no as there are numerous Nigerians capable of doing even better than their counterparts in the developed world.
The excuses that the opponents of a new national carrier are holding on to are not limited to running an airline and since other national enterprises having the same challenges are still running why should the issue of having a new national airline be sabotaged?
At this juncture, the success of Ethiopian airlines should spur on the President Muhammadu Buhari led government to fulfill its promise to make Nigerians proud by floating a new carrier that will fly the flag of the country without allowing the opinion of the few to prevail on that of the majority.