On Wednesday, Minister of state, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, unveiled the name and logo of the much awaited national carrier at the Farnborough International Public Airshow in London.
The national career: Nigeria Air, to be private sector driven is billed to begin operations by December. The National carrier is one aspect of an Aviation master-plan envisioned by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration which included a maintenance, repair and overhaul centre, an aviation leasing company and airport concessioning -all designed to make the country the aviation hub for West and Central Africa.
According to Sirika, the new national carrier would generate job opportunities for Nigerians. He also disclosed that 81 routes (domestic, regional and international) have already been identified for the airline which is expected to promote Nigeria’s cultures and traditions.
The unveiling of this airline was a culmination of painstaking planning and dedication of a team led by the minister to actualize Buhari’s promise to revitalize the nation’s national career that was liquidated in 1983 by the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The moribund Nigeria Airways, like every other government owned enterprises, was run aground by corrupt and incompetent officials. Irked by the lack of managerial dexterity by those in charge, the Obasanjo administration felt that Nigeria could do better without a national carrier that was existing only as a drainage for the nation’s scarce resources.
But this decision was tantamount to throwing away the baby with the bathwater as the government ought to have understudied smaller countries like Ethiopia, Morocco, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and others who are running their national carrier profitably.
In fact, Ethiopia Airlines, Air Egypt, Air Maroc remain veritable revenue earners for their respective countries even as they help deepen their tourism sector. Nigerians can not wait for the take-off of Nigeria Air in December to begin to generate revenues in line with the government’s diversification endeavors.
Even though the minister has said that government would not own more than 5 percent of the national carriers’s equity, leaving the rest to private investors, experts have cautioned that only tested and globally renowned experts in aviation industry must be engaged for airline to be profitably run.
Clamour for the settlement of entitlements of the retirees of the moribund Nigeria Airways should be treated with dispatch so that the proposed take-off of the Nigeria Air would not be truncated with moral and legal technicalities.