Apparently worried by loss of huge revenue from the aviation industry, Nigeria has concluded plans to regain some grounds by floating a national carrier before the end of 2018, going by feelers from the Presidency.
A competent source in the Presidency, told Ripples Nigeria that President Muhammadu Buhari had a surprise for the aviation sector with a soon-to-be announced programme of action, leading to Nigeria having a national carrier.
“It is unpleasant revelation recently that Nigeria has been losing more than $1.5bilion yearly from the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) because of non utilisation of its (Nigeria’s) International flights allotments.
“Such a report is a call to duty for any responsive government to find the best way to, if not to recover such losses but reduce it. And since from the onset, he (Buhari) has shown the zeal in the possibility of returning the National carrier, the BASA report and others like it, have made it ideal and created appropriate time for something to be done.
“The detail of how to achieve results will be left for the ministry and other relevant agencies to come up with in the next couple of months,” the official disclosed.
However, an indirect confirmation of this assertion was made by the Minister of State Aviation, Senator Hardi Sirika when on Wednesday he told journalists, in Abuja, that a group of six firms, including German carrier, Lufthansa, had been appointed to advise the government on how to return Nigeria as the aviation hub in the West African sub-region.
The Minister said the advice from the International consultants could lead to a number of improvements on the growth of the sector, which he said has all it takes in revamping the country’s economy quicker than most others.
“Many projects will be targeted on the new drive, including possibilities of setting up a national airline; revamping the national aviation leasing company as well as having a maintenance hanger, all of which will be done in partnership with the private sector, with government providing all the guides, ” Sirika said.
It would be recalled that the federal government had in February 2016 received the report of a special committee it set up to look into how to return the national carrier.
But the divided views of the stakeholders had reportedly seen the report resting on the book shelf till date.
But with the International agencies’ reports supporting having an airline to bear Nigerian colour and maximum utilisation of its call-signs for international operations, coupled with revenue from BASA , observers have already concluded that the real issue will be the efficient management of the new airline to be introduced.
Chris Ahigbe, an aviation expert said years of neglect of the sector would see Nigeria spending a minimum of $500 million in putting its infrastructure in order before regaining the status of aviation hub of the West African sub-region.