Aviation: Nigeria’s new national carrier to start operations in 2022 – Minister
Nigeria has set the first quarter of 2022 as the new date for the take-off of a new national carrier that will replace the defunct Nigeria Airways.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika stated this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“In this 2021, we will try to do all the needful and probably intend to start operations somewhere in the first quarter of 2022,” Sirika stated.
According to Sirika, Nigeria, with its huge population and geographical location, stands in good position to operate a successful airline at this time.
“Nigeria is the best candidate to have an airline; 200 million people that travel sometimes almost for nothing; sitting within the West African Region, 400 million people; contiguous to Central Africa, 600million—twice the population of the US, equal to the population of the entire continental Europe.
“At the centre of Africa is Nigeria; equal distance from all locations; rising middle class, propensity to fly is high, Nigeria is the best candidate for a very robust carrier.”
The minister said that plan for the take-off of the new national carrier was on top gear, adding that his Ministry of Aviation would, in the next two weeks, present a memo to the Federal Executive Council on the project.
“We went to council to approve the outline business case for the carrier. Then, the council raised some questions and asked us to go and look at the memo again and bring it back.
“So, once it comes back and the outline business case is approved by council, we will go to the full business case, which is now going to the market and establishing the national carrier.”
Stymied By COVID-19
Sirika said that it was the intention of the Ministry of Aviation to have the national carrier start its operations in 2021, but pointed out that the plan was stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister, however, said that though the Covid-19 negatively affected civil aviation in terms of establishment of the national carrier, it has turned out to be the “much better time to establish the carrier than before.”
Sirika said: “Of course, for obvious reasons, we now have access to the equipment that will come faster to us. Deliveries of the aircraft will be faster. Perhaps even the rates might be cheaper and so on.”
Sirika said that the cabinet approved the contract sum is N201, 150, 487.21k for “the procurement, equipping and installation of accident investigation towable mobile offices.”
He said that the approval was for the Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, which is an agency that investigates the causes of air accidents, with a view to preventing future occurrence.
“The purpose is that this equipment, once purchased and if there is an accident anywhere, the mobile offices will be driven to the location.
“An office will be established for the purposes of taking data, collecting samples and gathering information regarding the incident and analyzing them on site and tagging them and doing all sorts of things there.
“This can take any time; sometimes, few hours, sometimes, even weeks and these locations will normally be remote from any part of town, city and organized infrastructure to be used.
“That’s why there is a need to have these mobile towable offices and they will come with the truck that will pull them to the location and provide facilities that they could use like stores, where they can put the exhibits and items that they can collect for this purpose,” Sirika added.