N78.96bn appropriated for national carrier, others – Sirika

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The minister of aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika disclosed yesterday that N78.96 billion had been budgeted in the 2021 Appropriation Bill to implement the plan for a new national carrier, among other projects next year.

Speaking in Abuja during the defence of the 2021 budgetary allocation to his ministry before the senate committee on aviation, the minister said the national carrier would be carried out in partnership with the private sector.

He said the aviation roadmap that was unveiled in 2016 would get good attention in the 2021 budget, with the national carrier, already christened Nigeria Air, taking the lead.

“In 2021, the sum of N78.960 billion is being proposed for capital expenditure at the headquarters in the aviation ministry and the emphasis will focus on the implementation of the aviation roadmap as directed by Mr. President.

“The roadmap would be implemented through public private partnership (PPP), topmost of which will be the establishment of a national carrier,” he said.

He added that other projects to be executed include embellishment of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility, agro-allied cargo infrastructure, aviation leasing company, search and rescue unit and Aerospace University with the support of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

On the national carrier, Sirika said all necessary agreements and arrangements with other partners had been worked out, making 2021 the year the plan that has been in the pipeline, would be actualised.

 “This government, right from inception in 2015, has been planning and strategising on how to resuscitate national carrier for Nigeria as far as global air transportation is concerned. The plan, going by what is on ground now, will be actualised next year through the PPP arrangement,” he added.

The national carrier was intended to replace the defunct Nigeria Airways that ceased operations in 2003.

The replacement was designed as a public-private partnership with the federal government likely to own as much as 10 per cent stake.

The equity was backed by N47 billion in the 2019 budget to help the airline take off after it reached the procurement stage just before the 2019 general elections. The national carrier also featured in the N27 billion bailout fund earlier proposed for the aviation sector in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic.

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