Federal Government of Nigeria has reiterated commitment in setting up a national carrier, which will be private-driven, and will commence before the end of 2017.
Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation, said yesterday while briefing journalists after the first meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
“The national airline will be one that the government will have no hand in; normally it can have 3 percent. It will be private sector led and private sector driven. Except with the Ethiopian Airline, it has been proven that government doesn’t do well with this kind of venture.
“We are going to have a national carrier, it is on course and because it is a PPP thing it has to go through IC and C, and also has to follow all the due process. So, it is time consuming but I hope very soon before the end of the year we will have a very strong viable national airline,” Sirika said.
In a bid to upgrade the Kaduna Airport and make it standard for international operations in the next three months, the minister also said that the council approved N1.1 billion for the completion of the airport terminal building.
He said the contract for the rehabilitation of the building was initially awarded in 2011 at the cost of about N500 million, adding that the contractor noticed some structural damages to the building, which necessitated the variation of the contract sum to the N1.1 billion.
On the Abuja runway, he said the runway was on the verge of collapse as it had operated in excess of the approved standard years, adding that it was designed to last for 20 years but had been stretched for 34 years now.
It is important for the government to take this measure to avoid more damage in the future, as was the case with the Port Harcourt airport, the minister said.
“The runway is designed for 20 years to cater for not more than 100,000 people per annum. Today, it is doing over 5 million persons per annum and has been there for 34 years. So, it is going for 14 years in excess of design.
“We would not just cause hardship or distortions to the economy for the heck of it. It is a very serious matter and for a very good reason,” the minister said.
The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Abuja is scheduled for shutdown for six weeks from March 8, 2017.
Nigerians are currently expressing concerns on the total closure of the Nigeria’s second busiest airport, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, as BusinessDay findings now show that it will cost losses to domestic airline to the tune of N6 billion.
“We were all witnesses to how Port Harcourt shut itself. The Port Harcourt runway was folding like mat, it was caving in like deep gully erosion and FAAN was busy patching until one night it caved in and AirFrance landed, it destroyed their landing gear and busted their tyres,” the minister recalled.