Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, has urged the Federal Government to jettison the idea of relaunching the national carrier, Nigeria Air, saying that the project amounts to a waste of the country’s lean resources.
According to Onyema, the downturn in the Nigerian ‘National carrier project’s drain on Nigeria’s lean resources’ economy which has seen a rise in poverty, hunger and unemployment among the youths makes it more imperative for the government to focus more in creating the right infrastructure and environment for thriving private sector investments than venturing into the establishment of businesses, like an airline.
The Air Peace boss instead demanded that the Federal Government throw its weight behind investors in the local airline industry who currently hold licences to fly international routes as flag carriers so that they can operate into the routes assigned for them by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
“The Federal Government should resist the temptation to set up a national carrier, because the experience around the world had proved that the model was at best a drain on lean public resources,” Onyema said in an interview with Daily Sun in Igbariam, Anambra State.
“In the United States of America, we have Delta Airlines, American Airlines and Continental Airlines flying as flag carriers for the country but enjoying the support of the US government. This is what I want the Federal Government to do for the local airlines; government should support local airlines,” he added.
Onyema said the major bane to the success of local airlines on international routes was sabotage by regulatory agencies and the government of some of the foreign countries that the local airlines seek to fly into. He, therefore, sought the assistance of the government in weathering through the storms of the international aero-politics, which he noted was often responsible for the early exit of Nigerian carriers from international operations.
Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, a fortnight ago had announced that the government had concluded plans to relaunch the national airline project which had earlier been suspended by the Federal Executive Council.
“Nigeria Air will be relaunched; We are coming back very soon,” said Sirika.
“The decision to suspend the national carrier project by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) was only done in the interim. The FEC has agreed that the project is desirable and potentially beneficial to the nation,” he at an Aviation Stakeholders Forum held in Abuja.
But local airline operators like Onyema have insisted that setting up a national carrier would cost Nigeria at least $3billion (as a single Boeing &&& cost about $320million) and that it was unwise to invest such amount in a venture that could go bust considering the high risks associated with managing an airline business.