Nigeria Air To Commence Operation With Rented Aircraft
The Federal Government has approved three aircraft to commence operations as Nigeria’s national air carrier.
Nigeria Air, as the airline would be known, would operate with rented aircraft.
This was disclosed on Wednesday by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting.
The meeting which held after series of security breaches across the Federal Capital Territory was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The minister said the airline would commence operation with three rented aircraft made by Airbus and Boeing.
The operation will be restricted to only domestic routes, the minister said.
He however assured that there will be gradual expansion into regional and intercontinental routes.
When asked when the airline would commence operations, he said, “we will announce commencement soon.”
The minister further noted that Nigerians who are willing to own part of the 51 per cent share available for indigenous investors are “welcomed to participate.”
Responding to the number of aircraft, he said, “I have said in our business plan, in the outline business case which is approved which are presented right here in this hall, I said that we are starting with three aircraft, for the first instance, to do the runs and then we progress.
“As to the make and type, we will be having eventually a mix of the two, the Air Buses and the Boeings. Because every airline that grows big is either or, most of them are either Air Bus or they are Boeing, especially for the Intercontinental and international flights.
“And this will start as domestic airline. And then it will of course grow to become regional and international, also intercontinental. On timeline, is a process we’re progressing. We will announce the commencement date soon.”
On the business plan against harsh economic environment, the minister said: “On the question of how we’re going to pull this through with the hiccups the aviation is facing, well, certainly it is a global phenomenon. Of course, I’m very sure you are abreast with the going on around the aviation industry. But suddenly, it’s not here forever.
“Aviation is very resilient activity. From time before, it always takes a deep and then come back up. We saw it in 9/11, we saw it in south, we saw it in global meltdown. We saw it in Pearl Harbor, and so on so forth. So, aviation is very resilient. And I think we’ll get out of the problems we are facing.
“Of particular reference, yesterday all of you were present when we discussed with the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) as to the challenges we’re facing in terms of Jet A1 availability and of course pricing, which is 40% of the operations of the airline. We’re finding solutions to those problems and the cost of funds also is being attended to and so on and so forth. So, yes, we will get there. And it’s doable and by God’s grace.”
Responding to the question on considering the possibility of using the aircraft of companies now under the care of Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), he said: “On engaging Aero Contractor, Arik, and the rest of them. Aero contractors at the moment, they have on their own chosen to shut down to rejig the airline internally. We are open to any person.
“By the way, the structure of outline business case as you’re aware there is 51% Nigeria. So, that 51 percent maybe taken by Nigerians, be it Arik, Azman, be it anybody or even yourself.
“So, you’re open to come and join. We don’t expect to exclude anybody that will come. Of course, anybody coming to join has to go through full due diligence to avoid all encumbrances. Air Nigeria is not known to law, what is known to law is Nigeria Air.
THE WHISTLER reports that the airline will replace Air Nigeria which also replaced Virgin Nigerian Airways founded in 2004.
The country commenced operation of the airline after the demise of the famous Nigerian Airways.
Preparation for the commencement of Nigeria Air began with the Farnborough Air Show in England in July 2018, but commencement was stalled owing to controversies leading to the announcement by the federal government that it is a “tough decision,” to suspend the airline.