Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation, says the federal government has no intentions to convert Arik Air into a national carrier.
Fielding questions from journalists at the end of the federal executive council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, the minister said Arik Air will not be suitable for the carrier that the ministry is planning.
Ahmed Kuru, the managing director of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), had urged the federal government to use the airline as a stepping stone in its quest to own a national carrier.
“The carrier that I intend to bring is such a carrier that will support the national economy, with $450 million GDP for 200million people, very equipped to compete favourably,” he said.
“The international airlines that have dominated Africa, 80% of those airlines are non-African. In view of the AU Agenda 2063, the Single African Aviation Market, we thought that there will be an airline that will take up that challenge; that will take advantage of it and be able to provide services to our people.
“Nigeria, being the first country to kick-start the declaration in 1999, to establish a one common market in Africa; at the time, we wanted to take advantage of the Nigeria Airways which was the strongest airline on the continent, and we thought that we could take advantage of that and it would pay Nigeria very well. Tables turned, decisions were reversed and now, Nigeria was unlucky to have an airline that can participate in that manner.
“So, the answer to your question is that Arik, as presently constituted, is not in line with the thinking of the ministry. It will not be able to give us that airline that we need. However, Arik as an entity, since it is private-sector driven, can either buy shares in the new ventures or invest in any manner in the business as presently approved.
“We are not saying once we have a national carrier, every other airline goes down. No. It is our duty to continue to support businesses.”
The federal government had unveiled the national carrier’s name and logo at the Farnborough International Airshow in London in July 2018 and plans for the airline was suspended in September of the same year.