MONTREAL, October 1 (Reuters) – Nigeria would consider purchase China as it grows, the country the young carrier Nigeria Air to 30 aircraft by around 2025, Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika said on Saturday.
Sirika said the new airline would have a mix of Airbus AIR.PA and Boeing TO FORBIDplanesbut added that the carrier is also willing to consider the Chinese narrow-body jet, which Chinese regulators certified on Friday.
“We haven’t looked at this C919. But if it’s as good as the others then why not,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the The United Nations the triennial meeting of the aviation agency in Montreal, Canada.
China on Friday hailed the development of its first medium-range passenger jet as the embodiment of the country’s drive towards self-sufficiency, with safety approval granted to a plane that aims to challenge western aerospace giants for orders.
The first C919 aircraft, designed to compete with popular single-aisle models made by Airbus and Boeing, will be be delivered by the end of the year, the Xinhua news agency reported.
It’s still unclear when the plane could be certified by the US or Europe, paving the way for sales in most overseas markets, but industry analysts say it will take up to a decade. before China can seriously tackle the existing Boeing-Airbus duopoly.
“China and Nigeria (have) very cordial and friendly relations with mutual benefits,” Sirika said.
For decades, China has loaned billions of dollars to Africa to build railways, power stations and highways while deepening its ties with the continent while extracting minerals and oil.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is the top importer of Chinese goods, with a value of $23 billion in 2021.
Nigeria’s poor transport and electricity networks have hampered economic growth for decades, hampering the distribution of wealth in Africa’s largest economy, where 40% of the population lives below the national poverty line.
However, the country is develop its aeronautical sectorwhere traffic is now higher pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, Sirika said. The airline is one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s election campaign promises in 2015.
(Reporting by Allison Lampert; Editing by Josie Kao)
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