Home News Why Nigeria Air may not take off before May 29

Why Nigeria Air may not take off before May 29

by easyclick
Spread the love

There are indications that the new national carrier, Nigeria Air, may not take off before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The Nation learnt that fresh hurdles are still standing on the path of the national carrier that must be scaled before it can fly.

The Ministry of Aviation had severally given assurances that the airline would hit the airspace before the current administration completes its tenure.

But experts who are familiar with the project say the promoters of the airline are yet to scale three fundamental hurdles: secure the aircraft for the airline, hire technical personnel, and secure the all-important Air Operators’ Certificate (AOC) before the project can earnestly take off.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) prescribes that any new carrier should undergo five critical stages, including carrying out a 50-hour demonstration flight before it begins scheduled flights.

Nigeria Air is yet to meet these conditions.

Investigations by our correspondent revealed that promoters of the project – the Ministry of Aviation – is struggling to get the buy-in of indigenous carriers, aircraft manufacturers and other stakeholders into the project.

But efforts by the promoters of the project are not delivering the expected outcomes because of investors’ low enthusiasm, lingering litigation, snail-speed documentation process and verification processing by relevant regulatory and aeronautical agencies.

Though the Federal Government, in February, assured the nation that the airline would start operations before the end of this year’s first quarter (Q1), preparations on the ground do not suggest fidelity to such schedule.

The Nation learnt that the carrier has not resolved ongoing legal tussle between its promoters and some domestic carriers.

But investigations by our correspondent further revealed that the project was having a credibility crisis as efforts to draft personnel into the project were receiving resistance.

A source familiar with the process said: “The project is not feasible again under this administration. The process of securing the Air Operators Certificate is not near in sight.”

Five domestic carriers, acting under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos challenging the project.

The airlines include: Air Peace, Max Air, United Nigeria Airlines, Topbrass Aviation, and Azman Air.

In an online interview on February 2, 2023, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said the carrier would take off very soon.

On the fate of the proposed national carrier, he said: “Nigeria Air will launch shortly. There is a process to having an airline and that process is driven by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). The process comes in different phases for those processes to happen.

“Being a public-private partnerships (PPP), it has to go through Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) by establishing a consulting firm, and transaction advisers to make a business case and to know if it is a viable project and that has been done.

“It took two years, and the Outline Business Case was produced and approved by ICRC and then taken to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which was also approved. Before now, we went to the public to invite bidders, which is a procurement process.

“The process ended up having Ethiopian Airline as the partner with 49 per cent; five per cent for the Government of Nigeria; and 46 per cent for Nigerian entrepreneurs and companies coming together to own the rest.

“They have applied for Air Transport Licence (ATL), which is being issued. Now, they are applying for AOC, and the process has gone very far.

“I believe that in the next one or two weeks from today, they should be able to get the AOC issued. That will signal the beginning of the carrier itself being flying. But we have been working in the past six years to establish it. We took this long because we wanted to be very diligent.

“So, I think the airline is on its way, and it will be soon. It will be launched within this quarter and it will be flying within this quarter. It will give Nigerians the service that has been eluding them.”

On the litigation hanging on the head of the proposed national carrier, Sirika said: “It is not the Airline Operators of Nigeria that went to court; it is Air Peace, Max Air, Azman, Topbrass, and United Nigeria.

“Interestingly, United Nigeria started business during my tenure as a minister. I was in charge of them becoming an airline. We did not stop them from coming.

“During my time as minister, almost a dozen of airlines started and nobody stopped them. All of them – United Nigeria, Topbrass, which doesn’t have an airplane, MaxAir, and Azman – can go outside and get investors.”

He added: “The problems of airlines in Nigeria include governance where you have a one-man show running an airline. There may be nothing wrong if it is done very well. There is also the lack of capital and the know-how.

“So, I think Nigerian airlines should try to copy what Nigeria Air is trying to do by bringing in an investor. It is all about the service.

“I think those that are in court, which is not a big thing to deal with, should know that they have the same opportunity to bring in investors into their airlines.

“So, I wish that by next month, Airpeace, United, and Topbrass should go somewhere else and bring in another airline to come and partner with them.”

Commenting on the markets the airline hopes to explore, Sirika said: “With the OBC, the airline should break even within the next three years and then start doing domestic and international flights: the UAE, Abu Dhabi, the London market; Heathrow, JFK, and the rest of the United States of America (U.S.A).

“Nigeria has a partnership with the U.S.A, which means you can land many times and as many times. China, Singapore, among others: all these are routes Nigeria Air is looking at. It will happen so quickly.”

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Powered by Live Score & Live Score App