Nigeria and the Republic of Portugal are set to commence the implementation of a Bi-lateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) as part of government efforts towards establishing and asserting the nation as leader in air transportation on the African continent.
This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika at a meeting with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal, Mrs. Theresa Ribeiro.
She was accompanied by the Head of Mission of Portugal in Nigeria, Anthonio Pedro Rodrigues da Silva, and the Director, Sub-Saharan Africa of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Cruz Silvestre in his office.
According to the Minister, the new BASA will open a new page in the hitherto cordial diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and Portugal, while also deepening business relationships between the people of the two nations.
A statement signed by James Odaudu, Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, said Sirika also disclosed that the Ministry had designated two of its carriers, Medview and OmniBlu airlines to service the Abuja-Lisbon and Lagos-Lisbon routes, ahead of the formalisation of the agreement during the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Services Negotiation Conference billed for Nassau, Bahamas in December.
He equally charged the Portuguese authorities to also designate their own carriers immediately in to ensure a seamless implementation of the Agreement.
The Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in turn told the Minister that the Nigerian airspace was not completely new to Portuguese airlines, as some of them had been closely collaborating with Nigerian carriers especially during pilgrimage operations and said the airlines to service the routes would be named in due course.
According to the envoy, Nigeria remained the giant of Africa, no matter the current challenges and that Portugal was delighted to enter into the Bilateral Air Services Agreement with Nigeria and expressed the hope that it would go a long way in cementing the long and cordial relationship between the two nations, while also opening new vistas of cooperation.
The agreement to commence direct air services between Nigeria and Portugal is expected to be finalised during the forth-coming ICAO Air Services Negotiation Conference holding in Nassau, the Bahamas in December.