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Nigeria Air: FG Approves Lease Of Three Aircrafts

BENJAMIN OMOIKE

The process for the establishment of a new national carrier, Nigeria Air, yesterday received a boost with the Federal Government approving the lease of three aircraft for initial operations.

According to the approval by the Federal Executive Council, the national carrier would begin operations with domestic routes with the aircraft to be procured from Airbus and Boeing.

Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, made the disclosure while briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.

Sirika announced that the airline would begin with domestic routes, then expands to regional and intercontinental routes.

Although he was not specific with the actual date for the take-off of the airline operations, Sirika said “We will announce commencement soon.”

“I presented two memoranda on national carrier to allow the Nigeria to lease aircraft to start operations. That has been approved by the council. And the second, is the deployment of investigation tool by 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 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 haveing 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 domestic airline. And then it will of course grow to become regional and international also intercontinental. On timeline, is a process we’re progressing. We will announce the commencement date soon.

“On the question of how we’re going to pull this through with the hiccups the aviation is facing, well certainly it is a global phenomena. 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 very resilient activity. From time before, it always take a deep and then come back up. We saw it in 9/11, we saw it in south, we saw it in global meltdown. We saw it in Pearl Harbor, and so on 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) as to the challenges we’re facing in terms of Jet A1 availability and of course pricing, which is 40 per cent 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.

“On engaging Aero Contractor, Arik, and the rest of them. Aero contractors at the moment, they have on their own chosen to shut down to rejig the airline internally. We are open to any person. By the way, the structure of outline business case as you’re aware there is 51 per cent Nigeria. So that 51 percent maybe taken by Nigerians, be it Arik, Azman, be it anybody or even yourself. So you’re open to come and join. We don’t expect exclude anybody that will come. of course anybody coming to join has to go through full due diligence to avoid all encumbrances.

“Air Nigeria is not known to law, what is known to law is Nigeria Air,” Sirika said.

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