The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika has said Nigerian government has no stopping right on Nigeria Air.
The Minister declared this on Friday at the official unveiling of Nigeria Air aircraft at the General Aviation Terminal, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
He said if the federal reserve withdraws its equity holding, the other entities will continue.
“In a business where other entities own 95 percent and you own just 5 percent. If you decide not to continue, those who own 9t percent stakes would. So if the Federal Government of Nigeria decides not to continue, it only has. 5 percent and has no stopping rights” he declared.
Recall the Airlines Operators Association of Nigeria (AON) had gone to court seeking to stop floating of the airline citing unfair competition.
The AON and some section of the Aviation Unions had also requested President Muhammadu Buhari to halt the process of establishing the National Carrier that has gone over 70 percent completed.
Also recall Ethiopian Airlines had emerged the preferred bidder and majority equity holder with 49 percent stakes in the National carrier.
A consortium of local investors also hot 46 percent equity while the FG retained five percent equity as the minority shareholder.
“The certificate of compliance the ICRC gave ensured that there is no stopping rights by the Federal Government. The partner we chose, Ethiopian Airlines consortium is a company owned by the Ethiopian Government but the government has mo stopping rights into that company. Even in the time of war, the company remained. So if those that own 5 percent decides not to continue, the 95 percent will continue” Sirika emphasized.
He reiterated that Government that is going to come in the next few days, it is a government of the All Progressives Congress. (APC) so project may not be impacted.
On when the airline will start operations, he said the airline has started because it is already incorporated.
But on when they will begin carrying passengers and goods, that will be after the entire regulatory requirements are met he said.
According to him, now that the aircraft has arrived, the demonstration flight to test the capacity of operate seamless services and the integrity of the aircraft. Once they are done with the demo flights. the NCAA will certify them he said.
Sirika emphasized that Ethiopian Airlines is capable and able, as they have done it for 77 years and even posted $1bn profit during COVID.
On the court case, he said the AON claimed whilst Nigeria Air is free to operate but they don’t want the partnership with ET because ET will takeover their business. But the AON hasn’t gone to court to stop their own members from partnering with any foreign Airlines he noted.
He said the FG ha supported local airlines like no other government before it.
“We have doubled the number of Airlines under my watch. We have also doubled the number aircraft and airports, we have tripled the number of passengers. We never stopped anybody from doing business. It’s on record, there is no airline that has written.to me that they want anything lawful that I have rejected. I have granted all their licenses without them lobbying. The culture has been set, you don’t need to know anybody to start an airline” he stated.
“50 percent of the Airlines operating in Nigeria happened under my watch and 50 percent of the aircraft also came under my watch* he stated.
Commenting, Mr. Lemma Yadecha, the Deputy CEO, Ethiopian Air said Ethiopian Airlines will play a pivotal role in developing Nigeria Air.
He promised ET will develop an airline that can give the service the nation can be proud of. The. Airline will serve on time, reliable, safe and secure he said.