MINISTER of Aviation Hadi Sirika has said that the proposed national carrier, Nigerian Air Limited, will be totally private as government will have only five per cent ownership of the airline which replaces the defunct Nigeria Airways that ceased operations in 2003.
Sirika disclosed this at the World Government Summit (WGS) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), while discussing the future of global aviation, in a panel moderated by CNN’s Richard Quest.
The panel had the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) President Salvatore Sciacchitano, the President of Emirates Airlines Tim Clark, and Airport Council International (ACI) Director-General Luis Oliveira.
“Nigeria is situated at the centre of Africa, equidistant from all locations in the continent, 30.4 million square kilometres and very green land. If Central and Eastern Africa is the belt of the continent, then Nigeria is the buckle; 200 million people and a rising middle class, the propensity to fly is high.
“Nigeria is a candidate for national carrier. The airline would be private, yes. Five per cent government and no government stepping right in that company, no government control, no membership of government on board. Totally private and committed,” the minister said.
The private sector partners are expected to comprise of an international airline with a maximum of 49 per cent of shares and Nigerian financial and institutional investors with a minimum of 46 per cent of shares, so that in addition to government’s five per cent, the total Nigerian shareholding will hold a minimum of 51 per cent of the shares of Nigeria Air.
Sirika added that Nigeria was the right destination for airline business due to the high number of travellers and that the Federal Government remains totally committed to strengthening the private sector.
Earlier, the Ministry announced it has applied to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for an Air Transport License for the national carrier to operate scheduled and non-scheduled passenger and cargo services within and outside Nigeria.