• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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FG in talks with Boeing, Airbus over Nigeria Air

Nigeria Air plans to take off amid fuel, forex crises

The Federal Government has commenced discussions with two plane makers, US-based Boeing and Airbus, a European multinational aerospace corporation, to facilitate the purchase of aircraft for the country’s national carrier, Nigeria Air.

BusinessDay gathered that several foreign airlines had indicated interest by submitting their bids as bidding is slated to end by May 10, 2022.

A source actively involved in the national carrier who craved anonymity told BusinessDay that Nigeria Air would kick off in July 2022 with three aircraft for short haul operations.

Long haul operations would commence about two years later, after  the airline gets its  IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA)audit.

The first out of the three wet leased aircraft for Nigeria Air is expected to arrive in the country in June, while the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) would be granting the airline its Air Operator’s Certificate, which would enable it to commence as a scheduled operator by June 2022.

BusinessDay also learnt that the airline has also selected its key personnel, all of whom are currently on ground. These include the managing director, project managers, chief financial officer, and chief commercial officer and operations manager.

The airline has chosen Abuja as its operational control centre and the headquarters and is currently working on the website of the airline, which will be launched soon.

The source disclosed that the Federal Government would only have 5 percent stake in the airline, while the remaining 95 percent would go to foreign partners and indigenous private investors.

A further breakdown shows that out of the 95 percent, 49 percent of the investment would go to foreign partners, while 46 percent would be for other indigenous private investors.

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“There are no preferred bidders yet for the national carrier. The process for the establishment of the national carrier, Nigeria Air, is very transparent and according to laid-down international standards,” the source said.

“We plan to increase the fleet to 30 aircraft in five years. These aircraft will include long haul and short haul aircraft. The plan for the national carrier started in 2015. Since 2015, we have been planning and putting things in place. The pandemic delayed but helped us plan well,” the source said.

James Odaudu, director of public affairs at the ministry of aviation, had recently hinted that the Federal Government was resolute about the establishment of a national carrier.

Odaudu said at this stage, no corporate entity or individual had been appointed or selected, or even preferred for the project as the process for selection had just started with the Request for Proposal.

He, however, said the Federal Government was committed to bequeath to the country a national carrier that Nigerians would be proud of, adding that the ministry remained committed to the project.

Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, had said the national carrier project, which is part of the aviation roadmap under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, would create about 70,000 jobs for Nigerians, noting that this was higher than the total number of federal civil servants in the country.

Sirika said the national carrier was supposed to have kicked off in 2021 but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He, however, said that for obvious reasons, the ministry now has access to equipment and deliveries of the aircraft would be faster and rates might be cheaper.