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FG okays lease of three Airbus, Boeing aircraft for Nigeria Air

By Wole Oyebade (Lagos) and Joke Falaju (Abuja)
28 July 2022   |   2:56 am
The Federal Government, yesterday, approved the lease of three Airbus and Boeing aircraft to commence domestic operations. The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika..

Hadi Sirika

The Federal Government, yesterday, approved the lease of three Airbus and Boeing aircraft to commence domestic operations. The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, told reporters that the new airline, already christened Nigeria Air, would take off soon.

The carrier earlier scaled the Air Transport Licence (ATL) hurdle and got approval to run for a period of five years, starting from June 3, 2022 till June 2, 2027.

Sirika disclosed that the airline would begin with domestic routes and then expand to regional and continental operations. On the likely date for commencement of operations, Sirika said: “We will announce commencement soon.”

He had earlier pegged the takeoff date for July 2022 though the search for bidders to drive the public-private venture was still ongoing. Recall that the ministry had in May extended the bidding process by one-month, now ending on June 10.

The national carrier was to replace the defunct Nigeria Airways that ceased operations in 2003. The replacement was designed as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the Federal Government owning a marginal stake of five per cent.

Findings showed that the project has racked up a total of N14.65 billion in appropriation votes between 2019 and 2022. About 40 per cent of the sum (N6.25 billion) has been channeled to working capital, consultancy and transaction advisers’ fees.

Secretary General of the Aviation Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said he did not understand the logic of a government that has only five per cent stake in the project, going ahead to float it when other 95 per cent shareholders are not ready nor known.

Ojikutu said it suggested more of another government-owned airline, than a public-private national carrier.

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