The Minister of state for Aviation, Hadi Sirika on Thursday said the proposed national carrier was on course as further consultation were being carried out by the ministry in order to get the input of all aviation stakeholders in ensuring that the country had a sustainable airline that will stand the test of time.
Speaking in Abuja at the stakeholders meeting, the Minister noted that “we coming back, we are coming back and coming back strongly.”
He noted that “the current efforts to establish the national carrier was initiated before the composition of the present Federal Executive Council (FEC). Mr President had directed the ministry of Aviation to commence the process of bring back the national carrier before I became the minister.”
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“Following the approval of Mr President of the road map, necessary procurement were undertaken to appoint the Transaction Adviser for the project. Advertisements were carried out on the 13th of June 2016 in Thisday and Daily Trust newspapers to this effect “noting that due process was followed in the public private partnership (PPP) arrangement in establishing the national carrier.
Sirika denied the allegations that everything started and ended up in his office, “the Outline Business Case (OBC) report reviewed certificate of compliance issued by Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) insisted on conditions of commitment to leverage on private sector capital and expertise towards establishment of a national carrier through the provision of an upfront grant/viability gap funding.”
The Minister explained that “an estimated funding for the establishment of the project is USD 300 million to 2020, an initial start-up capital of $55 million made up of $25 million for deposit for new aircraft and $30 million for working capital from June to December 2018 “.
“Estimated working capital for 2019 is $100 million, estimated capital for 2020 is $145 million to be provided by strategic equity partners who are expected to manage the project.”
Sirika said many willing financiers like “IsDB, AFDB, AFREXIM, Us-EXIM,Standard Chartered Bank, Boeing Airbus, BOAD, China -Exim amongst others ”has already indicated interest in supporting the Nigeria Air project.
Explaining further why the project was suspended, he said “FEC had agreed that the project is desirable and potentially sustainable, but asked for the project to suspended at moment.” Adding that “the name Air Nigeria was obtained by engaging the general public through the social media campaign were over 40,000 person were engaged within one week on Facebook.”
On why the project logo was unveiled outside the country, Sirika stated that “Famborough Air show is a bi-annual Global Aviation event, which provided a perfect opportunity to unveil the national carrier. It created visibility and connect manufacturers, investors and financiers. It also gave opportunity to showcase all the Aviation Road map.”
He also denied that “no foreign company was paid $600,000 for the design of the logo of Air Nigeria, I am too young to spoil my name with financial misappropriation. Apart from commitments in respect of transaction advisory services, branding and participation in London, no other commitment has been made ” noting that about N40 million was spent for the same purposes.
He said Air Nigeria will “support the growth of the Aviation industry and domestic airlines through infrastructure expansion, traffic routes expansion and manpower development associated with national carrier and also to compete with foreign airlines for a share of the international routes through competitive pricing thereby reducing capital flight.”
“The ministry is implementing the project in an open and transparent manner in conjunction with relevant stakeholders,” he concluded.