The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the leasing of three aircraft by the country’s national carrier, known as ‘Nigeria Air’ to enable it to commence operations.
Minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, said this on Wednesday while briefing journalists after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The federal government had disclosed that Nigeria Air will commence operations with three wet-leased aircraft.
Sirika said Nigeria Air will start with domestic flights before expanding to international routes.
“We have said in our outline business case, which was earlier approved, that we are starting with three aircraft for the first instance and then we progress. We will have a mixture of airbus and Boeings because every airline that will grow big uses the two.
“We will start with domestic flights and then we grow to become international and then we move to become regional and intercontinental. There are challenges currently in our aviation industry but it is a global phenomenon and it will not last forever because aviation is a very resilient sector. Certainly, we will overcome these problems,” he added.
“Of particular reference, yesterday all of you were present when we discussed with the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) the challenges we are facing in terms of Jet A1 availability and of course pricing, which is 40 per cent of the operations of the airline.
“We are finding solutions to those problems and the cost of fuel also is being attended to and so on. So yes, we will get there. And it’s doable and by God’s grace,”he said.
While reacting to the issue of airline shut down such as Aero Contractors, Sirika said, “Aero Contractors at the moment have on their own chosen to shut down to rejig the airline internally.
“We are open to any person. By the way, the structure of the outline business case, as you are aware, is 51 per cent in Nigeria.
“So, that 51 percent may be taken by Nigerians, be it Arik, Azman, be it anybody or even yourself. So, you are open to come and join. We don’t expect to exclude anybody that will come. Of course, anybody coming to join has to go through full due diligence to avoid all encumbrances.”
Last month, the national carrier received the Air Transport Licence (ATL) to commence operation, but no date has been announced yet.
Sirika also said the council approved the sum of N707,962,864.83 (€1,506,285.7) for the deployment of investigation tools by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) in aviation sector.
“That tool will permit the Accident Investigation Bureau to be able to decode goings on in flights, and God forbid, should there be a need to investigate the accident or incident, the tool will help them to be able to do so,” he said.
“That procurement is for €1,506,285.7, which is equivalent to N707,962,864.83. This will include taxes at a central bank exchange rate of 472 in Euro with the delivery period of 11 months and is awarded to Messers Integrated Contract Services Limited for AIB.”