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Monday, 9 July 2018

New national airline to commence operations this year, says aviation minister

New national airline to commence operations this year, says aviation minister

Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, says the proposed national airline for Nigeria would be unveiled before the end of the year.

Sirika, a former pilot, gave the assurance while receiving the outline business case certificate of compliance for the establishment of the airline from Chidi Izuwah, director-general, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

The minister said the presentation of the certificate was a testament on how far the project had gone.

The proposed airline will gulp $8.8 million preliminary cost and $300 million as take-off cost.

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“The federal government is not fully funding the airline as it has adopted midwifing it via the option of a public private partnership, to deliver a national carrier that would stand the test of time and be world class in operation and management,” he said.

According to Sirika, Nigeria will receive the first set of five airplanes for the airliner on December 19.

“The airline will make profit in three years after operations,” he said.

“We will make the investments and follow the business plan through private sector management.

“We intend to get a 30 aircraft market in five years. But we will begin with five aircraft on the day of lunch. It was not clear whether an order has been made for the aircraft, but the minister in May met a team from Boeing in Abuja.

“At Farnborough International Public Airshow coming July 18, 2018 in London, we will unveil the name, logo, colour scheme, the structure and the type of airplane about the national carrier.

“We will also place the order for the aircraft at the event.”

Sirika explained that the government would step in to cover the funding gap at the onset and ease out thereafter.

He said the government would not get involved in the management of the national carrier.

Sirika said Nigeria’s population of over 180 million people is huge enough to support aviation, adding that the airline would take advantage of Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) that the country has with over 70 countries.

According to him, it will also take advantage of the Africa Single Air Transport Market and will be the best player if the government gets it right.

“But if we don’t, it will become a threat to us. But I believe we are on the right track,” he said.

The minister also gave an assurance that the national carrier would not kill the domestic airlines operating in the country.

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