Minister of Aviation and Aerospace, Hadi Sirika, Friday, unveiled the much awaited Nigeria Air at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
Sirika, while unveiling one of the Boeing 737-800 ET-AL out of the 35 earmarked aircraft carriers for the project, said the airline was equal to the size of the market and the dynamics of the Nigerian market, its geography and the fortunes.
He explained that there was a partnership between entrepreneurs in Nigeria and entrepreneurs in Ethiopian Airline Consortium, noting that the Consortium belonged to many partners.
According to the minister, “…It’s a noble thing we are doing and Nigerians are happy. Nigerians love this. So, this is the alternative. This is to show how to do airline business very well and to serve Nigerian people better. And like I said, it is not unhealthy competition.
“In the process of establishing an airline, there are the conditions set by the regulator which is Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). So, this air plane will be here and we will commence the demonstration flight to show that we can do it. Normally, I think between zero to 40 hours, but it can be less it can be five hours, it can be two hours and this is to ensure that we are able and we have the capacity to do it.”
Speaking further he said, “You don’t come in one day to dump 35 aeroplanes. You can’t come in one day and start going to London. So, it’s a gradual process. The aeroplanes will be coming one after another and in the next five years, according to the business case, we achieve the 35 aircraft mark from there it continues.
“And don’t forget this is a private sector led airline with the skin of the government in at 5 per cent and there are no stripping rights by government. So, Nigerians are welcome and I am sure it’s going to go to the public for sale at some point for 5 per cent.”
On his part, the Chief Commercial Officer, Ethiopian Airline, Lemma Yadecha Gudeta, while commending the effort of the federal government, assured that the project, under the watch of the Ethiopian Airlines, would ensure economic development for the country.
Gudeta further assured that the Nigeria Air would be a $1 billion dollars project in five years times.
“As far as the initial business plan that we are working on in collaboration with stakeholders in the consortium, Nigerian air will be a $1 billion USD company in five years time,” he said.