Stakeholders differ on proposed national air carrier

The Managing Director of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, has said Nigeria does not require the support of any foreign airline to set up a national air carrier.

Onyema also described as insulting the move by another carrier to help Nigeria in setting up a national carrier, saying the Federal Government must have trust and confidence in the ability of the Nigerian airlines.

But the Chairman of the African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA) observed that in as much as Nigeria deserves to have a new national carrier, it must forge partnership with reputable foreign airlines.

They spoke at the 23rd conference on “Boosting Aviation Investments through policy” organised by the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondent (LAAC) in Lagos.

Onyema said it was de-marketing to say Nigerian airlines are not strong, adding, “In less than four years, I have acquired about 27 planes flying and I have about 30 planes on order that is hitting the country in the next eight months.”

According to him, many equipment manufacturers have indicated interest to do business with Air Peace. “National carriers in Africa are coming to Air Peace. Some visited yesterday seeking our assistance. If we are not strong, they wouldn’t come to us. And we have agreed to assist some in a win-win situation.”

He said the planned launch of the new national carrier with minority Government shareholding, if it is done transparently and skillfully, would boost the economy of the country. He added, “To succeed, the proposed new national airline needs a sound business plan, strategic industry partners, adequate funding, an experienced management team, well-trained staff, a fleet of modern aircraft, a comprehensive route network, on-time performance and good customer service.”

According to him, good governance and “no government involvement in the management of the airline will be essential.”

He attributed the success of government-owned Ethiopian Airlines to its solid foundation in the 1940s with the assistance of US carrier TWA, coupled with good corporate governance and the hard-work of its management and staff. Managing Director of Med-View Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole said the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways, was killed by politicisation, over-bearing governmental intervention and policy inconsistency. (Daily Trust)

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