Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has disclosed the Federal Government’s plan to begin flight operations of the national carrier, Nigeria Air with an initial three aircraft to be leased from other companies.
Beyond the lease of the aircraft, the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari approved a total sum of 1,506,285.7 euros, approximately N707,962,864.83 to enable the airport authorities to acquire working tools under the Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB.
Sirika said the flight operations will first begin locally, then progress to regional and international routes going forward.
The government is mulling the takeoff, soonest, despite existing challenges in the aviation industry, especially the rising cost of aviation fuel, the Jet A1.
The Nigerian national carrier logo had been launched abroad, a few years ago, when stakeholders in the Nigerian aviation sector took to an air fair to explore options available to it for effective execution.
Sirika said, “I presented two memoranda on the national carrier to allow Nigeria to lease aircraft to start operations. That has been approved by the council. And the second is the deployment of investigation tools by the Accident Investigation Bureau. That tool, will permit the accident investigation to be able to decode going ons in flights, and God forbid, should there be a need to investigate the accident or incident, the tool will help them to be able to do so. That procurement is in sum of 1,506,285.7 euros which is equivalent to N707,962,864.83.
“This will be including taxes at a central bank exchange rate of 472 in Euro with the delivery period of 11 months and is awarded to Messers Integrated Contract Services Limited for AIB.
“On how many aircraft, 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 to grow 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 a domestic airline. And then it will of course grow to become regional and international also intercontinental. On the timeline, is a process we’re progressing. We will announce the commencement date soon.
“On how they’re going to pull this through with the hiccups the aviation is facing, well certainly it is a global phenomenon. If you, 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 a very resilient activity. From time before, it always takes a dip and then comes back up. We saw it in 9/11, we saw it in the south, we saw it in the global meltdown. We saw it in Pearl Harbor, and so on and 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) 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”.