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Aviation minister allays fears of Nigeria Air’s collapse

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The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, on Thursday assured that the newly launched Nigeria Air will not go under like the defunct Nigerian Airways.

While delivering a lecture at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT)’s 47th convocation in Kaduna State, he said the issues that ran Nigerian Airways aground had been identified and taken care of.

Sirika, who was the guest speaker at the event with the theme ‘Civil-Military Partnership Towards Thriving Aviation Industry in Nigeria’, said Nigeria Air “is different” from the grounded Nigeria Airways.

“The ownership is different. It is different because it is private sector-driven as we insisted, and it will have zero control by government. Government will own minority share of less than five per cent, and the team that will run this is entirely the business of investors. Government will not appoint anybody.

“Second, it will be well-capitalised. So, the issue of capital will not be a problem of this airline, because it won’t start until it has the requisite finance for sustenance.

“Nigeria Airways died for so many reasons, including governance issues and finance. The government of Nigeria owned it, and over time it lost track and lost funding and someone decided to shut it down.

“We saw it in many of airlines in Nigeria. I think if they change style and begin to invest more in the airlines and improve on governance, every airline has a potential because Nigeria’s market GDP is $450 billion officially. Nigerians travel. There are traders and there are a lot of tourists. People go to Nairobi to see wild life and lots more,” he said.

The minister also disclosed that a lot of Nigerian pilots would be absorbed when the new national carrier commences operations in December.

While explaining that the airline was launched in London for visibility, he said the investors would decide who runs their business.

“No government control whatsoever. But I want to warn you that the people who are going to do recruitment ab initio will be a company that is world-class. It will be done based on merit,” said Sirika.


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