President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the aviation ministry to ensure that the planned national air carrier, Nigeria Air, commences operations before the end of 2022.
The president said this at the closing ceremony of the 2022 Ministerial Performance Review Retreat in Abuja.
”In line with the outcome of the panel session on Priority 4 (Improve Transportation and Other Infrastructure), the ministry of aviation is hereby directed to conclude and ensure the take-off of the National Carrier Project before the end of the year,” Mr Buhari said.
Several years after the liquidation of Nigeria’s former national carrier, Nigeria Airways, the Buhari administration has insisted on commencing a new one.
The government has also said the new air carrier, unlike the previous one, will not be wholly owned by the Nigerian government and will not be managed by the government.
Earlier on Friday, Mr Buhari said Nigeria Air was 91 per cent completed and should commence operations in December.
The government says Ethiopian Airlines is the core investor in the new carrier with 49 per cent shareholding. The government owns five per cent while the Nigerian firms MRS and SAHCO hold 46 per cent.
Nigeria Air was unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show in England on July 18, 2018.
The project was suspended two months after it was announced after critics raised concerns over its relevance and sustainability. The proposed airline was expected to gulp $8.8 million preliminary cost and $300 million as takeoff cost.
Nigeria’s defunct carrier, Nigeria Airways, collapsed due to corruption and poor management.
But the Nigerian government dismissed all concerns raised, saying the airline would begin operation before the end of 2018, following President Buhari’s promise to establish a national airline during his 2015 electioneering campaign.
In July, the Federal Executive Council approved the leasing of three aircraft to enable the airline commence operations on a date to be announced soon by the government.
Many Nigerians are still suspicious of the plan to launch a national carrier, partly with public funds, at a time the government is struggling to fund other essential services.Follow us on social media