Nigeria propose to float new national carrier next year

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· Releases trapped $300m to foreign airlines
· More foreign airlines threaten to leave Nigeria
Nigeria’s aviation sec­tor will enter a new phase next year as the Federal Gov­ernment moves to float a na­tional carrier.
To ensure the smooth take off of the airline, the govern­ment intends to appoint a transaction adviser next week to facilitate the exercise.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, af­firms that “between now and Wednesday next week, we will appoint a transaction adviser for the proposed national car­rier. Once that is in place, Ni­gerians will have options, there will be competition, good air­craft and this will bring the prices (fares) down.”
The minister spoke on Wednesday with journalists af­ter the Federal Executive Coun­cil (FEC) meeting at the Presi­dential Villa, Abuja.
He explained that the gov­ernment was looking at start­ing the national carrier with­in the next 12 months, adding that unlike in the past when the Federal Government whol­ly owned the Nigeria Airways, the new national carrier will be run by the private sector with the government having only a five percent stake.
Sirika, who did not name those interested to serve as the transaction advisors, said that “we do not want to discourage anybody from participating.
“We want to make it broad-based and we want as many people as possible on board. We want people to compete. Just wait and at the right time we will let Nigerians know those who will be involved in the new carrier”.
On the planned withdraw­al of some foreign airlines from Nigeria, the minister said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has made available $300 million for foreign airlines out of their $600 million earnings which they had been unable to repat­riate to their country due to the scarcity of foreign exchange.
“As regards carriers like Egypt Air, British Airways, Turkish Air, which fly in here with undesirable aircraft while they put on other routes better aircraft despite the fact that the Nigerian routes pay them more, we have been talking to them seriously and ensuring that they change their fleets.
“However, some of the air­line operators are constrained by the infrastructure we have in place. For example, Emir­ates will love to bring the kind of aircraft they fly around the world but the apron in Abuja is not supporting that service.
“That is why the aircraft they take to Lagos is different from the one they take to Abu­ja. These inadequacies are also being addressed and once that is done, we will have befitting aircraft coming into the coun­try,” he said.
The FEC also approved the augmentation of the contract for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Airport, now at the cost of N1.68 billion and awarded it to the original con­tractor, Inter Bau.
The second contract, which is for the refurbishment of Phase II of the Port Har­court Airport domestic termi­nal building, was raised from N746.830 million to N1.41 bil­lion.
More foreign airlines threaten to leave Nigeria
Although the Federal Gov­ernment has announced the release of $300 million for for­eign airlines to ease their forex demands, the Association of Foreign Airlines’ Representa­tives in Nigeria (AFARN) has warned that more of its mem­bers were set to close shop be­cause of the current high ex­change rate.
The association disclosed on Wednesday that its members were yet to enjoy the concession granted to them to access for­eign exchange at the inter-bank foreign exchange market.
AFARN President, Mr. Kingsley Nwokoma, told jour­nalists in Lagos that the high exchange rate was killing their businesses.
Nwokoma said that in spite of the aviation minister’s inter­vention, nothing has changed because dollar scarcity had per­sisted.
He pleaded with the Feder­al Government to remove the hurdles to the local and for­eign airlines’ access to foreign exchange.
Source: Authority
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