FIA 2018: New Nigerian carrier to support regional airport infrastructure

Fifteen years after the demise of Nigeria Airways, a new national carrier has been unveiled with high hopes that it will dominate Africa’s aviation sector and shine a spotlight on the opportunities within Nigeria’s airport infrastructure.

Citing how 80% of carriers in Africa are not African, Nigeria’s minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, declared this needs to change. “Nigeria has not been a serious player in aviation for too long,” he said, acknowledging that since the region’s dominant player – Nigeria Airways – had stopped flying, airline after airline has failed.

Speaking at the unveiling of a new national flag carrier, Nigeria Air, on Wednesday 18 July, at Farnborough International Airshow, Sirika added “I am very pleased to tell you that we are finally on track to launch a new national flag carrier for our country: Nigeria Air. We are fully committed to fulfilling the campaign promise made by our President, Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. We are aiming to launch Nigeria Air by the end of this year.”

The government will have a maximum 5% stake in the airline, “this will be a private sector led and driven national carrier,” he continued, explaining how it will be run through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. “It is a business, not a social service and investors will have full responsibility – the government will give it’s backing but it will not be involved in running or deciding who runs it.”

Eighty-one domestic, regional and international routes have already been identified for the airline’s network and part of the ministry of aviation’s road map in getting the new carrier to market has been to focus on the country’s airport infrastructure. Significant investment has been made in airports throughout the country to ensure they are up to standard.

“Previous governments attempted to build new airport terminals (primarily using Chinese loans), but didn’t complete them. We have taken those airports, solved the issues and made them functional,” stated Sirika.

New terminals in Lagos and Abuja airports will add 11 million passenger capacity in each of the two airports, while Sirkia unveils that the government is in the process of concessioning airports throughout the country. “We don’t want to sell them – they need to remain an asset for the local population,” said Sirika, but “we don’t have the funds or ability to run them.” He concluded that by outsourcing to concessioners who can rebuild the countries airports to international standards and manage them, while paying concession fees, the countries airports can operate more efficiently and effectively.

Written by: Chloe Greenbank

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