The federal government has christened its new national carrier ‘Nigeria Air’ and designated it to operate to 81 destinations.
Speaking at the unveiling of the name and logo of the new airline at the ongoing Farnborough Airshow in London, the minister of state of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said the airline will fly 40 domestic, regional and sub-regional routes and 41 international destinations.
He said “we want to use it to promote our culture and tradition” adding that the government will not hold more than five per cent equity in airline.
“There would not be a single government control of this airline, not in management, not in human management. People who invest would determine that. We have a policy where employment goes to Nigerians fist before it goes outside.
“We engage 400,000 Nigerian youth to arrive at the name of the airline. All of their ideas were taken and digested and we came up with what is an average. The airline will take into cognizance the multicultural nature of nation through its diversity. We want to use this airline to make a statement that Yes can we do it,” he said.
Besides, he said the airline is private sector driven stressing that “this airline is a business and not a social service.”
“It is not intended to kill any airline in Nigeria but complement it and promote it. It must be done in a right. Government will not hold shares beyond five per cent at the top most. This airline is having the backing of the government. Government will come up with funding according to the business case that has been delivered to government.
Furthermore, the minister said 80 per cent of carriers in Africa are non-African and “Nigeria has not been a player for a very long time.”
“We use to be a dominant carrier in the continent of Africa through Nigeria Airways. Sadly, Nigeria Airways is no more.
“Government has been quite liberal by liberalising the sector at the tail end of 70s and early 80s to allow private sector to participate in creating a robust airlines that would serve the market, and that would transform the economy of that region.
‘Unfortunately, the stories of the initiatives which were well recognized and respected, has not yielded the desired goals of achieving a top class, competitive, efficient and vibrant carriers.
“With the government of Nigeria, it is extremely important that the service is provided. The reason being, there is a service that is needed and also, it will offer employment opportunities that will kick start and ginger and double up and rush the growth of the economy of Nigeria.
“So we take it as an extremely very important venture. And that is why government thought it has the responsibility upon itself much more than a social in trying to create a new national carrier that will be typical and private sector led and driven through public private partnership (PPP) arraignment,” he said.
On the rationale behind offshore launching of the airline, Sirika said the “fact that being the largest congregation of global aviation industry players, the event affords the best opportunity to market the airline to prospective investors and register it in the minds of all stakeholders ahead of its formal launch billed to take place in Abuja before the end of the year.”
The unveiling was attended by the chairman, senate committee on aviation, Mr. Adamu Aliero, chairperson, House of Representatives committee on aviation, Ms. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, among others.