There has been an orchestrated grand plan by some airline operators to run a campaign of calumny against the immediate past Minister of Aviation Sen. Hadi Sirika over his tenacity to float the national carrier, Nigeria Air.
Recall the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) led by the founder of Azman Airline and the President of Azman Group, Dr. Abdulmunaf Yunusa, and the Chairman/CEO of Air Peace Airline, Allen Onyema who is the Vice President AON, have waged a relentless war to frustrate Nigeria Air.
The AON had also taken the Federal Ministry of Aviation to court and obtained an injunction to stop the process leading to the successful takeoff of the airline.
The AON had also written to the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the Nigeria Air process. The AON in a letter to the then President wrote: “As your excellency is well aware, the administration will hand over on Monday, May 29, 2023 but the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, is planning to circumvent the court orders on Friday 26th May 2023 being the last working day of this administration and possibly to cover up the various infractions of Nigerian laws, amongst others.”
The AON tasked the President to stop the aircraft unveiling or risk “controversies on the action after the administration would have expired.”
Experts say AON has made good its threat and incited Nigerians against Nigeria Air and against Hadi Sirika.
An industry analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity alleged that over N500 million has been budgeted by some airlines to run a huge media campaign with the sole purpose of killing Nigeria Air and tarnishing the integrity of Hadi Sirika.
“Over N500 million has been set aside for a huge campaign to frustrate Nigeria Air. These same individuals are also bent on dragging the image of the Minister into the mud. This is despite the huge patronage the minister accorded local airlines while he was in office” he stated.
According to him, the Minister protected local airlines and worked hard for them to get incentives, which include waivers in duties and VAT on aircraft and spares. He also ensured they got COVID palliative even when federal government agencies under the Ministry of Aviation didn’t get as much support from the government. Private airlines for a bailout for free brokered by the Minister” our source said.
Meanwhile, a cross-section of air passengers has expressed excitement over the planned national carrier as they hope Nigeria Air will help reduce air tickets that have spiked.
Some passengers who spoke to our correspondent at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja expressed optimism that Nigeria Air with Ethiopian Airlines as a technical partner will run an efficient and cost-effective airline business.
Johnson Usen told our correspondent that based on ET’s long years of operations, they would deploy the right equipment for Nigeria Air, run cost-effective operations, and charge relatively lower fares.”
Another pass gees, Hassan Mohamed said the local airlines might be afraid ET will cash the cost of local tickets thus, they don’t want that to happen.
“These local airlines want to continue to milk us. This is why they don’t want a national carrier. We want the national carrier to help us end the suffocation by local airlines. Nigeria Air will liberate the industry” he submitted.