Sirika , airports, airlines

The Minister of Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika has said the proposed national carrier, Nigeria Air will fly before May 29th, 2023.

The Minister also said the project was 98 percent completed.

He stated this in Abuja on Thursday during the 10th Aviation stakeholders forum where he spoke on the status of the roadmap of the ministry.

The Minister, while giving an update on the likely date Nigeria Air would commence operation, said: “All of the roadmap items except perhaps the airline which in my opinion is in 98 percent completion, and we will fly within these remaining two months by the grace of God.

“We will also finish the concessions. So, all those things we said we will do when we came in, we did them.

“Before the end of this administration, before May 29th, we will fly.”

He also said he had thought Emirate, Lufthansa, Qatar airlines would emerge as the preferred bidder for the Nigeria Air project.

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He however said he was glad Ethiopian airlines group consortium eventually emerged.

He said he reached out to international airlines and domestic airlines except Overland to partner with Nigeria Air.

Sirika said: “When we were setting up Nigeria Air limited, my gut feeling is to partner with airlines that I think will add value, with financial experience and high profile such as Emirate, Qatar, Lufthansa, and the rest of them.

“Those who worked closely with me know that this is my forecast and what I wanted because I believe if you partner with Lufthansa for example, automatically you will have license to fly.

“I thought we would do that and I made attempts to reach them and invite them as I did with all airline owners in Nigeria except overland.

“I reached out to them personally to come and partner to create a strong airline but fast forward, we had a bidder, Ethiopian airline.

“I was very happy that we got them (Ethiopian) to come. It was not my choice but I am happy now knowing what I know.

“They are a household name, strong and they have been in business for 70 years unbroken and they have over 200 aircraft.

“So, I am very glad we are partnering with them and it is a reality.

“Some airlines are in court and their grouse is that it can be any airline in the world but not Ethiopian because, in their own way, they think Ethiopian is a competitor.”

On the potential of the roadmap, Sirika said it can create thousands of jobs.

He said: “Upon completion of the roadmap, it is estimated that 72,300 jobs (9,100 direct jobs and 63,200 jobs within three years and with 20 aircraft) will be created.

“A recent aviation sector study for Nigeria by International Air Transportation Association (IATA) in June 2020, showcases the significant contribution of air transportation to the National economy, through providing 241,000 jobs (direct and indirect) and a contribution of $1.7 billion to the national economy.

“However, with the successful implementation of the roadmap projects, our overall goal is to grow the aviation sector’s contribution from the current 0.6% to 5% approximately $14.166 billion.”


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