The Federal Government has said the National carrier fleet, Nigeria Air will begin operations in December with 20 new petrol aircrafts.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this during a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, held at the National Assembly Complex, on Friday.
Sirika said nine out of the twenty ordered aircrafts have been delivered.
Gbajabiamila, who expressed concerns over the project said; “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.”
Sirika on his part said; “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 privatise 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.’’
“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. Road maps 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.”
“We have so far from all the submissions identified the partners, and the investors and we are currently negotiating and processing the AOC. We are twerking the business case in such a way it will give us an advantage and set in the most efficient manner. So, I want to commit here by the grace of God, between now and the end of the year, the airline will work.”
The Aviation Minister also said that the cargo terminal of Abuja international airport will be ready in five days.