Louis Ibah and Uche Usim, Abuja
The Federal Government has said the first batch of five aircraft for take-off of the new national carrier will arrive the country on December 19.
This came as the government received the ‘Outline Business Case Certificate of Compliance’ for the establishment of the proposed national carrier with a pledge to deliver to Nigerians the new airline on December 24, 2018.
Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, who received the certificate from the Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr. Chidi Izuwah, in Abuja expressed his satisfaction with the Transaction Advisers for carrying out their assignment with utmost diligence and timeliness.
Sirika also announced that the government had opted for the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for the national airline, saying that that model remained the most viable mode of sourcing funds to kickstart the airline as well as ensuring its effective management.
It was leant that all parties to the proposed national carrier are to invest about $308.8 million, with $8.8 million slated as preliminary cost for the project.
According to Mr Sirika, Nigeria will receive the first set of five airplanes for the airliner on December 19, 2018. He expressed confidence that the five aircraft will start yielding profits three years after the commencement of operations. According to him, from an initial fleet of five aircraft, the national carrier is expected to grow its fleet size to 30 within the first five years of its existence.
“We intend to get a 30 aircraft market in five years. But we will begin with five aircraft on the day of lunch,” he said. “At Farnborough International Public Airshow coming July 18, 2018 in London, we will unveil the name, logo, colour scheme, the structure and the type of airplane about the national carrier,” he added.
Sirika dispelled fears of the national carrier sounding the death knell for existing private commercial airlines, saying “with a population of over 180 million people with so many un-serviced routes, Nigeria offers more than enough space for serious (private) airlines to operate profitably alongside the national carrier.”
The Minister commended the ICRC Director General and his team for ensuring that the national carrier project remained on track through the observation of all legal and regulatory frameworks.
Also speaking at the occasion, Director General of ICRC, Mr Izuwah, said the presentation of the Certificate of Compliance to the national carrier was an official green light to proceed with the procurement process. According to him, the certificate was granted on the condition that the Federal Government is committed to leveraging private sector capital and expertise towards the establishment of the national carrier through the provision of a ‘Viable Gap Funding’ for the airline project.