The Federal Government on Thursday said the national carrier, Nigeria Air, is 98 percent completed and will begin operations before May 29, 2023.
Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, disclosed this at the 10th National Aviation Stakeholders Forum 2023, in Abuja, adding that the successful implementation of the Aviation Roadmap would gulp about $14.166 billion.
The minister said that local and international flights would commence soon following ongoing negotiations with the Ethiopian Airlines Group Consortium and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
According to him, negotiations are ongoing with the Ethiopian Airlines Group Consortium and the Federal Government of Nigeria, saying the next step is the Federal Executive Council approval of the full business case.
“Operation of local and international flights will commence soon. Before the end of this administration, before May 29, we will fly.
“However, with the successful implementation of the roadmap projects, our overall goal is to grow the aviation sector’s contribution from the current 0.6% to 5% (approximately $14.166 billion)”, he added.
Sirika said that the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) in June 2020, reached a significant contribution to Nigeria’s economy by providing about 241, 000 direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.
Speaking further, the minister said the benefits Nigeria stands to derive from the establishment of the national carrier are reduced capital flight from Nigeria; gain the optimal benefit of BASA and SAATM and develop an aviation hub.
The minister also hinted that the national carrier would adequately contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); facilitate hospitality and tourism; facilitate growth and development of the Nigerian agricultural sector and create jobs around the Agro-Cargo Terminals.
According to him, “A study showcases the significant contribution of air transportation to the national economy, through providing 241,000 jobs (direct and indirect) and a contribution of $1.7 billion to the national economy.
“Furthermore, we have successfully debunked the gospel truth that aviation doubles every 15 years. Currently in Nigeria, the number of airports including those currently being developed has doubled, the passenger number has doubled, other entrepreneurships including catering and ground handling have blossomed, the number of airlines and jobs has multiplied”, he said.
Sirika also said that the aviation sector is challenged with: “Inadequate safety, security and surveillance equipment; capacity development of unemployed trained professional Nigerian aviators and ageing and over-bloated workforce in the aviation agencies; high cost of funds and shrinking capital market.
“Poor and intolerable condition of airport facilities and equipment (long waiting and check-in times, time consuming security screening and baggage pickups; high debt profile of domestic airlines; slow and cumbersome procurement process; lack of skilled high level management personnel in airlines.”