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Nigeria Orders 20 Aircrafts in Preparation for the Launch of Air Nigeria in December

Nigeria Orders 20 Aircrafts in Preparation for the Launch of Air Nigeria in December

In preparation for the launch of Nigeria Air in December, the federal government has ordered 20 new aircrafts, Nigeria’s Aviation Minister has said.

The national carrier has so far received nine aircrafts, but the minister, Hadi Sirika, who disclosed the development on Friday during a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, assured that the rest will be delivered as soon as possible and that the airline will start operation by December.

However, the national carrier, which has lingered for long, raised fresh issues that Gbajabiamila said they need clarifications.

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“The issue of the national carrier is very important. It is something we are all paying attention to. We just want to make sure we get it right. There have been some misgivings. Some issues have been raised. But there are issues that need clarification,” he said.

Sirika, who had earlier assured that Nigeria Air will begin operation as soon as approval is given, said that President Muhammadu Buhari at the just concluded ministers’ retreat gave a marching order to ensure that the goal was achieved.

“When I came in as a minister, we didn’t arrogate to ourselves knowledge and wisdom. We believe in the stakeholders on whose behalf we are servicing. Having been made minister, I came out with a road map which in my little wisdom will help transform civil aviation in Nigeria.

“I ran it through the system within the ministry and we commissioned some consultants to conduct a market survey and see where we are as an industry at that time. We set out to concession our airports not to privatize but to concession the airports.

“We also set out to put a proper airline the size, capacity, dynamics and the population and the markets and the complexity of the nation, Nigeria and also set out a leasing company and develop the cargo terminals and so on,” he said.

Sirika also explained that some legislative adjustments are needed to pave way for a profitable national carrier.

“When I came to the House of Representatives, I found out that the Act that was signed by Jaja Nwachukwu in 1963 was the Act that we were using charging pounds and shillings in 2003. We hurriedly, as we were departing in 2007, got the civil aviation passed in 2006 with some imperfections.

“There were some important ones. Roadmaps and to God be the glory that today we have done what we thought is good as an act. So, all these roadmap items are private-sector-led and driven. It’s intended to do the framework and the foundation and steer it in such a way that it will be beneficial to the people and make it a private sector initiative to which the government has some interests, understanding the civil aviation in value addition, improving the GDP and jobs.

“The national carrier is in the works and we have advanced significantly just yesterday, Mr President in concluding the retreat has directed that this airline must work between now and December. And it will work by God’s grace.

“We have ordered 20 brand new training aircraft that use petrol. So far nine have been delivered. All these in the national carrier efforts,” he stated.

The Nigerian Air is one of the most controversial undertakings of Buhari’s administration. The revival of a national carrier is largely considered to be of no economic benefit to Nigeria as it is expected to fail.

But Sirika said the national carrier, which is only five percent-owned by the government and 45 percent-owned by Ethiopian Airlines, gives every Nigerian the opportunity to become stakeholders in the aviation sector.

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