By Gboyega Oni
The unveiling of a new national airline – Nigeria Air – by the Federal Government of Nigeria in London last week has elicited reactions from aviation operators who spoke at the annual seminar/awards organised by the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) in Lagos.
The operators who welcomed Nigeria Air said that the new carrier must not hurt the success of private airlines have recorded and government must do everything to make it succeed.
The Minister of State for Aviation Senator Hadi Zirika while unveiling the logo, said Nigeria Air would be a private-sector driven as government would not own more than 5% share. The new airline is scheduled to take off in December 2018.
Hadi Zirika has this to say “It is a business, not a social service. Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it. The investors will have full responsibility for this and “the Nigerian Government will not own more than 5% of the new national carrier. Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it.”
Mr. Nick Fadugba, CEO of African Aviation Services Limited, while speaking on the airline said that the Federal Government ought to have sat with all indigenous airlines operators before the launching of the airline to assuage their fear over surviving.
He noted that there is no enabling environment for aviation investors to thrive in the country, saying that the coming of Nigeria Air would further make the business more competitive than it is.
Also speaking, Barrister Allen Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace, said that local airline operators were not against the birth of Nigeria Air but its operation must be transparent and with no intention of hurting private airline operators who have invested huge funds into the business.
Onyema has this to say: “We are waiting for the airline. It has to be done transparently. When it is designed to work against the success of local independent airlines, I am against it.
“President Buhari wants indigenous airlines to succeed and that is why I am supporting the national carrier. Whatever that is done by the government for Nigeria Air to succeed must be done for private ones; it must not hurt the private ones and exist side by side with them.
“Civil servants should not employ any tactic to frustrate private airlines out of business in favour of the new national carrier.”
In his address, Mr. Segun Koiki, Chairman of LAAC, said the new airline was a welcome development but noted that for Nigeria Air to succeed government must do the right things or else the airline might go the way of the defunct Nigeria Airways and other airlines in the country.