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Gone with the wind: FG suspends Nigeria Air

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THE Nigerian government has announced the suspension of the proposed New National Carrier, ‘Nigeria Air’, less than two months after its controversial launch.

Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had launched the project during the Farnborough Air Show in London, the United Kingdom, in July, but after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, the minister said the council “has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim”.

Sirika gave no reason for the suspension of the National Carrier project but only added that “all commitments due will be honoured”.

Sirika had tried to allay the concerns raised by many stakeholders over the obvious unprepared inauguration of the National Carrier project.

As at the time of the inauguration, not even a website was in place for the proposed Nigeria Air. All the ministry did was to contract a company in Bahrain, From 6 Communications, to handle the branding for the project, including designing a logo.

Unconfirmed reports had it that the branding contract was worth $600,000 (N183 million).

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But Sirika tried to allay the many concerns raised at the time, explaining that every necessary step had been taken to ensure the successful take-off of the project.

“In order to ensure the take-off of the airline in 2018, government will provide $55 million upfront grant/viability gap funding to finance start-up capital and pay commitment fees for aircraft to be leased for initial operations and deposit for new aircraft, whose delivery will begin in 2021,” he told newsmen at the time.

A detailed report published by the ICIR, shortly after the launch of the ‘Nigeria Air’ project, revealed that almost everything was wrong with the approach being adopted by the ministry.

Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, said at the time that the ‘Nigeria Air’ project was bound to fail; an opinion for which she received criticism on the social media by supporters of the federal government.

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