Aviation experts may not actually be wrong after all, for being emphatic that, the feasibility of the proposed April 2022 date, for the commencement of operations of ‘Nigeria Air’ is slim, going by logistics on ground.
Recall that, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC), on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, announced the approval of April 2022, as the take-off date for operations of the long awaited Nigeria airline, ‘Nigeria Air.
Consequent upon the development, the Federal Government, through the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has again announced on Thursday, its intention to send out proposals to investors, who might be interested to own shares in the national carrier.
The Aviation Minister said,
“We will release what is called, Request for Proposals very soon. I believe by next week. And this Request for Proposals will describe what, and what, we are asking for.
“You will now go and send us a document that you are proposing to partner with us, and this is what you are giving us. Then we will sit down, evaluate, discuss, and choose a strategic partner, or partners, for this airline; and by the grace of God, we will continue to pursue that, and I know people will show up.”
The Minister again revealed that, because it would take about three to five years to take delivery of aircrafts ordered for by the Nigerian government, three (3) aircrafts have been leased to start operations.
In the words of the Minister,
“They will start with wet-leased aircraft, and that’s how 90 per cent of airlines in the world would have started. So they will start with a wet-lease of three aircraft, and then continue to expand, place orders, and then get deliveries.”
Minister Sirika while stating that operations will start in Abuja, again submitted that, the Federal Government would have no control in the operations of the airline, but rather, it is investors that would see to the running of the business.
He further stated that, 46 percent stake in the airline will be exclusively for Nigerians, 5 (five) per cent for government, and 49 percent for strategic equity partners, which are likely to be foreign investors.
Sirika confirmed that, ‘Nigeria Air’, for now, is a limited liability company, registered under the Public Private Partnership, (PPP).
He said, shares in the airline business would be sold like any other company’s shares; with optimism that, ‘Nigeria Air’ will soon be listed for public offers.
On Maintenance, Repairs, and Overhaul facility for the airline, Sirika said, the FG has released 12,000 hectares of land for that purpose in Abuja, as a free zone, where the MRO facility will be situated.
The Minister also reiterated that, having the whole facility, where in will be other businesses, would save Nigeria millions of dollars, when fully in operations.
The Transaction Adviser, to the government on matters concerning the national carrier, Captain Tilmann Gabriel, who was also present at the meeting, said efforts are ongoing to get the airlines certified as quickly as it required.
Capt. Gabriel stated,
“A lot of work has been done; it did not start today. Rather, it started three (3) years ago. An Air Operator Certificate, (AOC), is to be applied for in the next couple of days from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, (NCAA), which is the regulatory authority.”