Nigeria Unveils National Airline, Insists It's A Business, Not A Social Service

Nigeria's federal government, Wednesday unveiled the name, logo and selected 81 routes for the much awaited national carrier to start operations in December.

This was done by the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika at the ongoing Farnborough International Airshow in London.
According to the minister, the name of the national airline is: Nigeria Air, while the logo is Nigeria coat of arms with the national flag draping on it.

He said “this will be a National Carrier that is private sector-led and driven. It is a business, not a social service. Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it. The investors will have full responsibility for this and the Nigerian Government will not own more than 5% (maximum) of the new National Carrier. Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it.”

He also said government is negotiating with aircraft manufacturers and providers to provide fleet for the new national airline.

He said “we’ve been talking to Airbus and Boeing (and they’re present at this event) regarding the aircraft and we will be making announcements very soon. We are currently negotiating”.

Explaining what motivated the federal government to set up the airline, Sirika said: “It is true that 80% of carriers in Africa are non-African. Nigeria has not been a player for a very long time. We use to be a dominant carrier in the continent of Africa through Nigeria Airways. Sadly, Nigeria Airways is no more. Government has been quite liberal by liberalizing the sector at the tail end of 70s and early 80s to allow private sector to participate in creating a robust airlines that would serve the market, and that would transform the economy of that region”.

“Unfortunately, the stories of the initiatives which were well recognized and respected, has not yielded the desired goals of achieving a top class, competitive, efficient and vibrant carriers. With the government of Nigeria, it is extremely important that the service is provided. The reason being, there is a service that is needed and also, it will offer employment opportunities that will kick start and ginger and double up and rush the growth of the economy of Nigeria”.

“So we take it as an extremely very important venture. And that is why government thought it has the responsibility upon itself much more than a social in trying to create a new National Carrier that will be typical and private sector led and driven through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arraignment”.

He further revealed that some domestic and international routes have been selected by the government for the new airline.

He said: “We have selected 81 of those routes. 40 for domestic, regional and sub-regional and of course international routes, about 41. This airline because it is a PPP, the investors put in their money and strategic partners would decide who runs the airline. This airline, Nigeria Air, is a business and not a social service. It is not intended to kill any airline in Nigeria but complement it and promote it. It must be done in a right way so that it be here to stay. Government will not hold shares beyond 5% at the topmost. This airline is having the backing of the government”.

Sirika also said “Government will come up with funding according to the Business Case of Nigeria Air that has been delivered to government. We will engage the youth of Nigeria because we do believe in the 'Not Too Young To Run'. We engaged them in the campaign to name this airline. We engaged 400,000 Nigerian youth to arrive at the name of Nigeria Air. All of their ideas were taken and digested and we came up with what is an average. The airline will take into cognizance the multicultural nature of the nation through its diversity. We want to use this airline, Nigeria Air, to make a statement that Yes can we do it”.

“We want to use it to promote our culture and tradition. There would not be a single government control of this airline. Not in management, not in human management. People who invest would determine that. We have a policy where employment goes to Nigerians fist before it goes outside”. 

“We will fast track our IATA membership and go through IOSA Audit soon. We are not afraid to go through this because we have demonstrated that Nigeria is a responsible state”, he added.