Nigeria is setting up a committee to consult with local and international partners on establishing a national airline, the ministry of aviation said on Monday.
The committee will be chaired by a former pilot and will review reports on Nigeria's failed national carrier, Nigerian Airways, and other private airlines. It has four weeks to submit its findings.
The committee will also consult with Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to determine the debt profile of domestic airlines. Three years ago, AMCON, a state-backed "bad bank" established in 2009, took on more than 132 billion naira ($663 million) of debts from 12 Nigerian airlines, including the biggest carrier, Arik, and Aero.
In a report seen by Reuters, the country's ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, proposed last month merging those dozen debt-laden airlines into a single carrier. The report said the airline should operate in partnership with a global airline.
British billionaire Richard Branson set up a domestic and international carrier called Virgin Nigeria in 2000, but he pulled out in 2010 in frustration at what he said was interference by politicians and regulators.
The airline he created, which was later rebranded Air Nigeria, closed in 2012 after collapsing under about 35 billion naira of debt, leaving it unable to pay staff, a former finance director of the company told Reuters at the time.