Nigeria set to unveil new national carrier in London

The Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, in a series of tweets on Tuesday, has announced that a new airline that would be used to run the country’s planned national carrier would be unveiled on Wednesday in the United Kingdom.

Sirika said that a committee on the national carrier project, which is headed by him, already met with officials of Airbus and Boeing, to discuss aircraft orders for the national carrier

Recall that the federal government had announced last week that the country would be taking delivery of five new aircraft by December 19, 2018 in readiness for the launch of a new national carrier on December 24, 2018.

It will be exactly 15 years this year (December 2018) when Nigerians last saw or had the pride of flying on a national airline as the country’s erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo had in 2003 liquidated the previous state-owned carrier, then known as Nigeria Airways Limited.

Obasanjo had cited as reasons for the shutdown of the national carrier gross mismanagement, misapplication of funds, corruption by members of staff and its over-staffing, which he said had culminated in the depletion of the airline’s fleet from over 30 which he bequeathed to them in 1979 as a former military Head of State to just one functional aircraft upon his return as civilian ruler in 1999.

Sirika disclosed that the proposed new national carrier rather than being 100 per cent owned by the Federal Government would be a product of a Private Public Partnership (PPP), which implies that equity or shareholding structure will involve both the government and private sector.

The proposed airline will gulp about $308.8million being the funds to be jointly contributed from public and private sector investors.

While about $8.8million of that amount is earmarked as pre-startup cost for the airline, the balance of $300million is projected as the final takeoff cost for the new airline.

The Federal Government will, however, have to spend the pre-startup cost for things like the brand name, the acquisition of offices and other logistics and auxiliary materials.