Minister of State for Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika has echoed and confirmed that a new national carrier will be operational in December 2018 as directed by President Mohammadu Buhari.
The minister confirmed this responding to a question as to when should Nigerian expect the long awaited national carrier at the just concluded National Summit on Tourism and Transportation held in Abuja from May 21 to 22, 2018.
The minister was corroborating the earlier confirmation made by Engr. Chidi Izuwah, Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission [ICRC], who was speaking at the just concluded maiden edition of annual National Tourism and Transport Summit that was held in Abuja.
Izuwah was responding to a question by the editor of African Travel Times Magazine following his wonderful presentation on the role tourism and transportation in an economy.
He noted that there is no going back as his agency has given the green light for the establishment of a new national carrier that is yet to be named.
According to him, Nigerians will be involved in giving the proposed carrier a befitting name very soon before it begins operations In December 2018 as mandated by President Mahammadu Buhari.
“We are a country of almost 200 million people and the market is here and we have no reason not to have a profitable one for that matter” he said.
Time past, Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika had explained that the delay in the establishment of national carrier was occasioned by the counter offer by the transaction advisers it earlier appointed.
Sirika, had said two months ago during the 4th Aviation Stakeholders Forum in Abuja that Lufthansa Group that was earlier appointed by the Federal Government failed to accept the offer.
He explained that the consortium failed to communicate its acceptance or rejection of the offer to the government six months after, leading to the delay in the process.
The minister added that when the company eventually responded, it came up with a counter offer, which the government could not accept.
He said that Lufthansa asked the government to open an escrow account in abroad as well as requested that transactions be carried out in foreign currencies.
“In order not to rush and take wrong decision, we decided to take time to engage the consortium comprises Airline Management Group [AMG], Avia Solutions Ltd and Tianerro FZE.
“Airline Management is a UK based firm with experience and expertise in Airline Start Ups and turn around, which has led to some of the most successful transformation and cost reduction programme in the Aviation industry.
“The Transaction Advisers have all commenced work and are liaising with the Project Delivery Team to outline Business Case for adopting PPP methodology.
“They are to develop a well-structured PPP procurement process and select a PPP Partner.
“This is not the first time the transaction advisers are starting the job, they have been on ground but because the Nigerian public are eager to know them.
Whilst the government was struggling to get genuine partners for the new national carrier, it also has many local pretenders who are without doubt engaged to discourage the government from giving Nigerians a decent and quality airline.
Meanwhile, many travel and tourism analysts are also sounding warning to the government not to accept any investment from any Western, Gulf or African airlines not to own majority shares in the new venture so that they are not able to sabotage the new efforts.
They also noted that the new carrier can also survive when the government reduces the multiple entry points given to the airlines such Emirates, British Airways, Kenyan Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France/KLM among others.