Nigeria Air: Stakeholders express reservations on equity shares, take off date

The recent announcement of the equity shares in the Federal Government National carrier and its take off date by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has led to many questions seeking answers.

Major stakeholders in the aviation industry have expressed optimism that the project would become a reality while others are questioning the rationale for a 5% equity by government and still tag the yet to be born airline as a national carrier as well as the feasibility for take off date of April 2022.

The setting up of a national carrier is part of the development roadmap for the Nigeria aviation industry.

The purpose of the carrier as contained in the roadmap is to reciprocate all Bi-lateral Service Agreement, BASA, take full advantage of the Single African Air Transport Market, SAATM, introduce competition, leading to competitive fares and better services and create employment.

The project is to be private sector driven with government holding 5% equity shares, 46% shares for Nigerian entrepreneurs and 49% for the would-be strategic partners including foreign investors according to the aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika.

“Government will be holding not more than 5%, 46%will be hold by Nigeria entrepreneurs, 49% will be held strategic  equity partner or partners”.

Now, after about five years of turbulence in trying to wade through suspension and controversies that trailed the process of establishing the new airline, the recent announcement of April 2022 as take off date of the national carrier seems to have jolted many in the industry.

Secretary General, National Union of Air Transport Employees says, while the creation of 70,000 jobs was  a welcome development, they were yet to understand why government would spend so much money in setting up a private company with its 5% equity shares and still call it a national carrier.

“If foreigners own a majority shareholding in that airline, they should remove the word National from the carrier because there cannot be a foreign own company that is called Nigeria’s national carrier”.

Another stakeholder in the airline business, Mr. Femi Adeniji says, to avoid doubts, there should be a breakdown of what the 5% equity shares of government involved.

“Why are you the one providing the aircraft, why are you the one providing the maintenance, is that part of the 5%, who are the 46%? They need to disclose all these”.

An airline operator, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia who supports the birthing of a national carrier however noted that, the process since inception had been shrouded in secrecy, starting with the unveiling of the carrier’s logo and sought to know if the airline had been registered,who the shareholders were and if they would jump the rigorous process of getting the Airline Operators Certificate, AOC and Air Transport License, ATL.

“That means the airline has no registration at all even, if it does, it doesn’t have an ATL because this is the prerequisite for you to start an AOC in the first place”.

President, Aircraft Operators, Pilots Association of Nigeria, Mr. Alex Nwuba  said, the acquisition of the AOC and ATL would not be an issues for government to start off. 

“If they want to start next week, they can, they are the government, they will give themselves an AOC, ATL, they can give themselves everything required”.

Mr. Olu Ohunayo, member Aviation Roundtable Safety Initiative, ART, said that the equity shares was not an issue but his concern was the take off date of the airline within a short period of announcement.

“This is a carrier that is not on ground, we have not seen anything, how will they pass the rigorous 5 process of the AOC within this short period”.

While many players in the Industry look forward to more employment opportunities and increased activities when the national carrier takes off, they hope government would do the right thing to ensure a hitch free take off.

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