The Minister of Aviation Sen Hadi Sirika has taken a swipe on the Nigerian airlines who have gone to court to stop the establishment of the national carrier, the Nigeria Air..
Sirika said the Nigerian based airlines under the auspices of the Airline Operators Association of Nigeria (AON), who have gone to court to stop the establishment of the national carrier have done a disservice to Nigeria in spite all of the government support to their private businesses.
Sirika said the reason they have for their action is baseless and unreasonable.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika spoke on Thursday during the National Aviation Stakeholders Forum 2023.
He said no government has supported the local airlines the way the President Buhari led government has done and wondered why the airlines will seek to frustrate the national carrier that will have no adverse impacts on their private businesses.
He however noted that the FG is doing everything possible to have the national carrier flying before May 29th, 2023..
According to him, “the National carrier will contribute to the GDP; facilitate hospitality and tourism; facilitate growth and development of the Nigerian Agricultural Sector, create jobs around the Agro-Cargo Terminals and create new jobs.
For instance, he said the Nigerian Aviation Industry is the only industry in the world where qualified pilots are without jobs.
He said 50 pilots had come to him complaining about their unemployment status..
He said the national carrier should be able to employ more pilots and create other job opportunities.
He said Ethiopian Airlines, the offered bidder for the national carrier is highly competent, and profitable enough to add value to the Nigerian aviation sector.
Sen. Sirika reiterated that that the national carrier will take advantage of Nigerian aviation potentials.
He said he gave all the local airlines an opportunity to have stakes in the national carrier but they refused to take advantage.
“I asked all airlines in Nigeria except Overland to come partner and create a strong airline. Nobody took the opportunity. Fast forward, Ethiopian Airlines bidded. Was I happy? Well, I had mixed feelings. I was happy we got them to come. They were not my choice but I’m happy especially that I now know what I know about the airline” he said.
He said ET will definitely add value. “Ethiopian Airlines is not a pushover in the world. They are a household name, strong and reliable. They have been in business 70 years unbroken. Even during the world they flew. They have over 200 aircraft. During the COVID, they posted over $1bn profit. Apart from Qatar, no other airline made such amount” he further explained.
ET also has the best maintenance organisation in Africa. They have the biggest and best training facilities he said adding that it’s a big advantage for Africa if both markets partner.
He noted that the local airlines have no business fighting Nigeria Air.
The minister queried the intension of the local airlines on their court action.
“Some airlines are in court. They said we can partner any other airline in the world but not Ethiopian Airlines. In their own way, they think Ethiopian Airlines is a competitor. I don’t understand. In a world where airlines are coming together to build strong institutions and strong big airlines, and you said ET is a competitor?
He further noted that any of the five airlines that have gone to court to stop the Nigerian Air, if they have an opportunity to partner ET, they will do so.
The said the government has given maximum and maximal support to local airlines.
“Ask all the airlines that got Air Operator Certificate (AOC) during our time. Ask those who got AOC during the previous governments and how much they paid. The ones that got during President Muhammad Buhari, they didn’t pay a dime and they never came to my office to lobby anyone. Also how much did they pay to import aircraft or get Forex during this government. They didn’t pay anything* he said.