The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, says the proposed national carrier will be private sector driven. He said that would avoid the mistakes that led to the failure of the defunct Nigerian Airways.
Sirika stated this on the sideline of the ongoing International Civil Aviation Organisation World Aviation Forum on Wednesday in Abuja. Newsmen report that the theme of the forum is “Financing the Development of Aviation Infrastructure.” He said that stakeholders had agreed on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement for the new national carrier. The minister explained the Federal Government was following Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) guidelines to ensure that due processes in the arrangement. According to him, government has appointed the Transaction Advisers to work out modalities for the carrier. He said that government intended to go into alliances or joint ventures with other aircraft manufacturers to increase the reach and number of routes of the national carrier. Sirika added that the planned improvement of airport and air navigation infrastructure would support the expected growth from activities of the new carrier. “The question of national carrier, we all have agreement that this national carrier can only survive and succeed if it is private sector led and driven. “Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Nigeria are guided by act of parliament which is the ICRC Act 2007 that spelt out how to go about doing all these things. “We will be following them diligently. But unfortunately, it is cumbersome but we are following it so that we don’t run afoul of the law. “African Development Bank and other companies are discussing with us on this matter. “We are yet to meet with other stakeholders but we expect to meet them during this conference and after then, we will go and do our road shows. “The key thing here is having something that will stand the test of time so that we don’t start and falter. “It has happened to Nigeria before. The Air Nigeria was founded and at some point, it died because of something that was faulty. ‘’We have learnt our lessons and we are not going to repeat it again,” he said. Sirika admitted that one of the major challenges of air transportation in Africa was high taxes. He said that the issue of high taxes would be discussed as a critical factor to encourage investors. ”The lower the tax, the more flights in and the more flights in, the more passengers, more jobs, more revenue and that is within our master plan.’’ NAN