The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved April 2022 as the official date for the commencement of the operations of much-awaited Nigeria Air.
Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika disclosed this when he along with Ministers of Transportation, and Finance, Budget and National Planning, Chibuike Amaechi and Dr Zainab Ahmed, respectively, briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting.
According to Sirika, the majority of shares of 49 percent of the Nigeria Air project will be owned by strategic equity partners, 46 percent by Nigerians while the Federal Government will own five percent of the shares.
The minister revealed that Nigeria Air, when operational, would generate over 70,000 jobs, saying “these 70,000 jobs, they are higher than the total number of civil servants that we have in the country’’.
However, an aviation analyst and Managing Partner for Avaero Capitals Sindy Foster said the April 2022 target for the take-off of national carrier is not realistic.
According to her, the government would be rushing the process by setting the April 2022 target.
She wondered how the project is achievable without any aircraft on the ground.
She said, “Honestly, anything is possible. But something’s are more unlikely than others.
“Given where we are today, with the apparent lack of progress and no strategic technical partner assigned five months before the “launch”, I would say this is not achievable.
“But to say it will “take off” by that date is a bit vague. Will we see aircraft airborne by that date or do they mean something else? We saw a launch of a logo at an airshow where people were placing orders.
“Chances are they will hack it together, so they can hit the date target. Whether it will be a success is another matter. It feels a bit rushed given where we are today.”
Another aviation stakeholder who spoke in confidence, said while it is desirable to have a national carrier, the April 2022 target may not be feasible.
“Have you asked the Minister whether they have done demonstration flights. Has the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) been issued? These are the critical questions you should ask the Minister,” the source said pleading anonymity.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 20 airlines are in different stages of acquiring the AOC, which is the requirement for any airline to operate, it was not clear whether Nigeria Air is one of them.
Also, the AOC process involves five rigorous stages; one of which is the demonstration flights where the prospective airline flies empty for 50 hours.