Aviation Minister insists National Carrier still on course

…Keeps mum over takeoff date

By Adelola Amihere

Despite the backlash from the seemingly failed attempt at getting a new flag carrier for Nigeria, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika yesterday revealed that the move to get a new national carrier was very much on course

It will be recalled that Nigeria Air was a proposed airline and flagcarrier for Nigeria. The name and logo was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom in July 2018. The government claimed it would not own more than 5% of the airline, ceding control to private investors expected to invest $300 million in the new airline at inception.

However, on September 19th 2019, the Minister in a tweet announced that plans for the airline have been suspended sparking off mixed reactions from Nigerians.

The Minister who spoke through the Director, Planning Research and Statistics, Muhammadu Shehu at the 7th Edition of the Aviation Workers Week of the Joint Consultative and Negotiating Council (JCNC) of the Federal Ministry of Aviation in Abuja with the theme ” Contributions of a National Carrier to the Socio- Economic Development of Nigeria explained that certain mechanisms had to be in place first as to ensure a smooth takeoff while avoiding the pitfalls that led to the earlier suspension of the project in 2019.

He said, “We have internal mechanisms that will have to address. I assure you that it will be on line any moment from now, it is online, when it starts you will be happy by God’s grace.

“Having a National carrier is the dream of every Nigerian because of its economic advantage and a revenue generator in the industry. So we hope that when its starts, it will be wonderful. Nigeria will be fully represented globally and it will create job opportunities.”

Also speaking, Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Captain Rabiu Yadudu while admitting that there were a lot of unemployed pilots in the country pointed out the national carrier when on board will create jobs especially for young pilots.

“So, the pilots we have now are generally unemployed because they do not have experience. Flying is a profession that the more you fly, the more you get experienced, the more seniority and the more accomplished you get. The new ones need a platform that will help them launch their careers and they do not have enough.With the National carrier, there will be a platform for them to launch their career effectively and that is the big difference.

“For example, pilot training is what is needed in the industry and you cannot have pilots that are not trained. When you have pilots that that are not trained, they almost not pilots again. For us to have pilots flying, we need to have more airlines and aircrafts.Without a national carrier, we have a lot of airlines that do not have the cloud or capacity of a national carrier.”

Giving a progress report on level of work currently at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu following its closure in August 2019 to effect repairs on its dilapidated runway, Yadudu assured that the repairs will be completed before the April deadline.

“Work is going on smoothly and we have gone very far and we will meet our target before Easter. We have a project team on ground and the consultants are working and we regularly visit from FAAN and the Ministry of Aviation. ”

“Permit me to re-emphasize that discussions on the theme of this programme shall be based on individual’s views and standpoints. The Participants are, however, expected to generate their opinions as deemed fit. Our standpoint on deliberation by our Lead Speaker and Panel of Discussants shall be communicated to Management as part of the Outcomes/Resolutions/Communiqué of this year’s occasion, “he stated

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