By Linda Ike
The House of Representatives has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure the Aviation sector’s reformation.
The committee made the indication on Thursday in Abuja at a meeting with the minister of Aviation, Hadi Serika and Operators of Local Airlines in the country.
Responding the some of the issues raised by the committee, the Minister of Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, said that Nigeria Air limited will work before the end of December
“We have given every single Nigerian in the sector the opportunity to participate in this airline. I want to commit here that between now and December, the airline will work”. Sirika said.
Sirika stated that most of the terminals under construction will be commissioned before the end of the current administration.
He said, “The road map is going to be private sector driven. Governments is committed to the improvement of Airports.
“Airports are no longer just spaces for landing and take off, they for businesses. We have ordered for twenty training Airlines that uses fuel and nine have been delivered. Governments has also given us thirty hectares of land for expansion, in no time, everything will be normal”.
Speaking on why Nigeria has only five percent in the Nigeria Air project, the minister said that Nigeria got only five percent because the ministry does not believe that government being involved in business will do well.
He noted the case of Nigeria Airways that was run down because of Government involvement.
” The reason for the five percent is because we want the business to have a good start. All the monies for the start up will be factored in to the five percent. During the negotiations things might change”, Sirika said.
He also explained that Ethiopia Air was the only bidder in the process, stating that ” In the law, there was nothing wrong with that.
Sirika also stated that Nigeria Air limited carrying the flag of Nigeria does not mean it must belong to Nigeria.
The minister said that there was a complete misconceptions about the ownership of the Nigeria Air limited, as the Government owns five percent but other Nigerian stakeholders hold forty six percent of the business totaling fifty one percent.
The minister who insisted that the bidding process followed due process.
said there is need to open up the Airways so that Africa controls it’s airspace.
“If Nigeria does not have a strong airline , it will lose out. Ethiopians may seem to be competitors to us now, but soon, will become partners. Access to capital is very important to aviation business. We do not have a structure where we receive capital.
“Government has taken a position and that position is the establishment of Nigeria airline. But that does not mean other airlines will die. The more the merrier ” He said.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Hon Nnoli Nnaji, lamented that the decision to allow Ethiopians manage the Nigerian airline was wrong hence Ethiopian was a big competitor.
Nnaji said that the Aviation is a gateway to any country and something needs to be done about local terminals of Nigeria Airports.
Other lawmakers said that what is going on now with Ethiopia amounts to selling Nigeria’s rights.
They encouraged them to put their heads together and come up with what will be of great benefits to the citizens and Government of Nigeria.
The Spokesperson of the Airlines Operators of Nigeria Mr. Roland Iyayi, said that the partnership with Ethiopia Air was ill advised.
Iyayi said that the Ethiopian Government made conscious efforts to stabilise Ethiopia Air, noting that if Nigeria Airlines Limited begins operations in the hostile environment local airlines operates, it will fail.
“Ethiopian airlines has footprint in nine African countries including Nigeria. What Ethiopiais doing is to project themselves over other countries
“Ethiopia coming will be detrimental to local Airlines and to the benefits of Nigerians”, he said.