The Federal Government has picked Ethiopians Airlines as its technical partner for the national carrier project, Nigeria Air.
The plan to give the nation a new national airline after the liquation of the former, Nigeria Airways in 2003 started in September 2015, four months after this government came on board. It however took the government about seven years to get a technical investor in the airline despite several assurances.
Also, the government had earlier in the week debunked that it had selected Ethiopian Airlines for the project, saying that it was at the due silk stage.
But on Friday in Abuja, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika announced the airline as its preferred bidder, while also mentioning three other Nigerian investors with different equity shares.
What the minister is saying
Sirika said that Ethiopian Airlines would have 49% shares in the airline, Federal Government with 5 per cent while the local investors would share the remaining 46 per cent.
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Among the local investors are the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO), MRS and Nigerian Sovereign Fund.
Sirika also stated that the airline would commence with three Boeing 737 aircraft ”very soon”, but was silent on when.
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Sirika said the choice of Ethiopian Airlines was accepted by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), having gone through the Request for Proposal (RFP) under the Public Private Participation (PPP) Act,.
He declared that the consortium had been subject to a due diligence process, after which the contract would be negotiated between the consortium and the government, thereby leading to a Full Business Case.
He said the full business case would be expected to be approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), stressing that the government expected the process to take six to eight weeks.
He added: “An interim Executive Team of highly skilled aviation experts has been working since February 2022 to set up all the necessary regulatory and industry requirements to launch the national carrier. All executives have been approved by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Air Transport License has been issued by NCAA, Nigeria Air (after having identified the first three aircraft) will now finalise all necessary Operation Manuals and then go through the inspection and approval process of NCAA.
“The money spent for the launch of Nigeria Air, for all the requirements to establish an AOC and be admitted starting an airline operation, is well within the 5% capital investment of the Federal Government of Nigeria, that will be overall needed to establish the national carrier initially for the AOC approval and everything else required by stringent national aviation regulations, as prescribed in the FEC approved Outline Business Case (OBC).
“This OBC is the milestone for the preferred Bidder Consortium and has been met by the submitted business plan of the preferred bidder. It is the overall share capital of around $300 million, provided by the preferred bidder that will launch Nigeria Air to its full size of 30 aircraft and international operation within the next two years.”
Sirika clarified that no further funding would be provided above the 5 per cent share capital on the national carrier by the Nigerian government.
Earlier in the week, the government had debunked that it had selected Ethiopian Airlines as its core technical investor.
A source close to Sirika had said the government was yet to pick a technical partner or core investor for the airline.
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