Despite all the razzmatazz, despite all the grand promises of creating thousands of employment opportunities for Nigerians, the federal government on Wednesday announced the indefinite suspension of the proposed Nigeria Air.
The minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who announced the suspension after the federal executive council meeting in Abuja, said: “The federal government has taken the decision to suspend the national carrier project for obvious reasons. We have seen airlines coming and going. We have designated some airlines on int’l routes but none of them has met the yearnings of Nigerians.”
Later, he took to his twitter handle @hadisirika and tweeted: “I regret to announce that the federal executive council has taken the tough decision to suspend the national carrier project in the interim. All commitments due will be honoured. We thank the public for the support as always.”
It would be recalled that in July, Sirika unveiled the name and logo of the proposed airline at Farnborough Airshow in London.
He said at the event that the airline would be operate to 81 destinations made up of 40 domestic, regional and sub-regional routes and 41 international destinations.
Sirika who stated that the airline would take off in November 2018 also said “we want to use it to promote our culture and tradition.”
He added that the federal 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,” he added.