FG Nominate Lufthansa, Opens Discussion with Five Others On Re-establishing A National Carrier
The federal government has nominated Lufthanza and opened discussion with five others on re-establishing a National passenger airline and develop its aviation infrastructure – currently seen as a barrier to tourism growth – to create an economic hub for West Africa, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said on Wednesday.
Sirika made known that a group of six organizations including German carrier Lufthansa would open the lead for government to follow toward setting up an airline, an aviation leasing company and a maintenance hanger, and on creating concessions to run the country’s airports.
A cabinet meeting chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had approved N1.52 billion ($4.99 million) of funding for the project, Sirka added.
Decades of neglect and lack of investment activity has left Nigeria with low-quality infrastructure that is seen as a hurdle to developing economically and the government announced that upgrading the agency will require private investment.
The government set up a committee on establishing a national airline in 2015, in fulfillment of the campaign promises which brought Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) to power.
An APC transition paper seen by Reuters in 2015 had proposed merging a dozen debt-laden airlines on the books of state-owned “bad bank” Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) into a single carrier that would partner with a global airline to serve the West and Central African region.
The single carrier would include Nigeria’s biggest airline, Arik Air, which AMCON took over in February.
AMCON has said it has no plans to convert Arik into a national carrier and that the government has no interest in doing so other than to ensure that the airline continues to fly.