New national carrier ‘ll be private sector financed, Sirika reiterates



…Emirates Offers To Help


Posted by Sade Williams


Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has reiterated the commitment of the Federal government to a private sector driven Aviation sector, saying the proposed National carrier will be free of government interference.

At the just concluded discussion on the future of global aviation at the ongoing World government Summit (WDS) In Dubai, Richard Quest,vthe anchor of the session as why Nigeria want a mational Carrier, and the minister responded by saying “Nigeria is situated at the centre of Africa, equidistant from all locations in Africa. 30.4 million square kilometres miles, 1.5 billion people, very green land. If Central and Eastern Africa is the belt of the continent, than Nigeria is the buckle. 200 million people and rising middle class, propensity to fly is high. Nigeria is a candidate for National Carrier.”

On if the airline is going to be private sector driven, Sirika said;  “Private. Yes. 5 per cent government and no government stepping right in that company, no government control, no membership of government on board. Totally private and committed.

“Absolutely. When we came with Buhari government in 2015 which I became the minister. We were committed to a roadmap to establish a National Carrier, to concession the airports, to set-up a leasing company, to establish cargo facilities and we have been doing that”.

When also asked if government would be able to keep hands off it, the Minister replied; “Whatever we say we will do as a government since 2015, it has happened. that is why Tim Clark’s Emirate, Qatar Airways and all of them are looking to go into Nigeria in multiple frequencies and multiple landing points because Nigeria is the right place for airline business.’

When  Tim Clark was if he would get involved in Nigeria’s feat establishing a carrier. he responded: “ Is there a Business Case for the carrier? Of course there is.There is enormous Business Case to it. Nigerians are seeking to travel all over the world. Nigeria is a power house of Africa. We are over interested in flying there because it is a rich nation in terms of demand for services. It is a very rich If the minister needs some assistance in how they go about practising a blueprint, we are very happy to help but I would say not to be too disingenuous to ourself, I they they got the wherewithal they clearly understand what they are doing and they are doing it and probably in the next year they will a very good carrier flying and please come to Dubai because there is so much demand.

Speaking on Nigeria’s response to the pandemic, Sirika said: “The countries have to do it. Look at the case of Nigeria. We have 200 million people in Nigeria and most of them living close to each other in cities jam-packed with 20 million people in Lagos and 40 million people in Kano, something has to be done unless, people would die. We closed the country immediately at that time. And that is why in Nigeria up till today only 3,500 death were recorded from Covid19, and just about 250, 000 infected and 245,000 discharged from the hospitals.

Sirika, who said there is no doubt about the statistics from the pandemic said: “Yes I believe. Otherwise people would have been going to the grave unexplained. It worked very well, then, gradually things began to ease out and business began. Don’t forget before Covid-19, Nigerian aviation became the fastest growing sector of the economy. The airlines are doubled, passengers numbers quadruple, numbers of airports doubled all during Buhari administration of 6 years.”

On  one change he would love to see when his time ceases as a minister, he said: “I want to like to see that Nigerian aviation industry continues to be is led and private sector-driven and there is more efficiency and safety in the sector and given that we have added 50 million capacity to four airports recently. We are building more runways and treating the issue of Air Navigation Services (ANS) and all of those things that will make aviation smooth, efficient and safe and most preferred option of travel. And if you look at it continentally, Africa, the only way African Union (AU) agenda 2063 can be achieved is by aviation because rail and road takes tremendous quantum of money to establish and to maintain over continent of about 54 countries in 30.4 million square kilometre.”