(CNN)Ethiopian Airlines is the frontrunner to manage Nigeria's new national carrier, its chief executive has announced.
Nigeria unveiled plans for Nigeria Air, its new airline last month, and Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika indicated that it was in the market for investors to manage the carrier.
After enjoying a very successful financial year in which it carried its 10 millionth passenger, Ethiopian Airlines claims it is in the lead to take that role.
"We are among a small group with an interest in establishing a national carrier (in Nigeria)...we do not know the results (of the tender), though we are frontrunners," Chief Executive Tewolde Gebremariam told a news conference in Ethiopia's capital.
The decision to make Nigeria Air a public-private partnership, 15 years after the last national carrier ceased operations, allayed fears in the country over the government's ability to sustain an airline because of the country's patchy history with previous national carriers.
"The (Nigerian) government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it," Sirika had said at a press conference unveiling the new airline in July.
Sirika has downplayed Gebremiam's claims that Ethiopian Airlines is in the lead to manage Nigeria Air.
"I don't know about Ethiopian Airlines or any other prospective investors being favorites or frontrunners to establish and manage Nigeria Air," he told the News Agency of Nigeria Tuesday.
Sirika said ongoing discussions with prospective partners and investors are not limited to the establishment of a national carrier.
"There are other components of the Aviation Roadmap for which investors are being sought."
"These include the establishment of an MRO center, cargo terminals, Concession of airports, establishment of an Aviation Leasing Company etc."
He assured the public and potential partners that the process would remain open, accountable and transparent.
Nigeria's federal government has experienced many difficulties in its efforts to create a new national carrier since Nigerian Airways ceased operations in 2003.
In the past, investors such as British billionaire, Sir Richard Branson and Nigerian entrepreneur, Jimoh Ibrahim withdrew their involvement in previous carriers, citing