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Minister Announces Plan To Float New National Carrier

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The federal government has set in motion plans to create a new national carrier with the appointment of a transaction adviser expected next week.

Minister of state for aviation, Hadira Sirika, made this known to journalists after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting on Wednesday.

Sirika explained that the new national carrier will be a Public Private Partnership, PPP, initiative, adding that it would provide alternative for Nigerians.

The minister said: “The most important incentive is that between now and Wednesday, we will appoint transaction adviser for the national carrier.

“Once that is in place, Nigerians will have options, there will be competition, good aircraft and this will bring the price down.”

He also said the government had been addressing some of the challenges being faced by some foreign carriers that were threatening to pull out of the country.

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On the foreign exchange crisis in the aviation sector which has seen some airline operators partially or completely suspend operations, Sirika said that the issue had been addressed.

“You know that aviation is dollar denominated, you buy aircraft in dollar, you service in dollar, you train your crew in dollar, you do everything in dollar. And we simply do not have the dollar to pay these airlines,” he said.

“But now as we are talking, government through the Central Bank of Nigeria has made available $300 million out of the $600 million of the airlines funds stock in Nigeria to pay the airlines to demonstrate its commitment to the sector.

“And with devaluation, $600 million could be $1 billion. Gradually, we will clear everything and once that happens they are not going to go anywhere,” he added.

The minister also said that the federal government had approved about N3 billion for the completion of the rehabilitation work on terminal building phase II and international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport.

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