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Sirika: FG to revisit national carrier project

Hadi Sirika, the minister of state for aviation, says the federal government has started making plans to revisit the suspended national carrier project.

Speaking on Monday when he appeared before the senate committee on aviation in Abuja to defend the ministry’s budget, Sirika promised that the project would be delivered soon.

He said that the ministry only suspended the project to put adequate measures in place, promising that the project would be delivered soon.

He said the project, which was President Muhammadu Buhari’s brainchild would not be allowed to die.

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“We have to suspend the earlier plans for the national carrier for strategic reasons. The move was not killed,” he said.

“Provisions have to be made to continue to fund activities of advisers and so on, to ensure that it is delivered.

“The carrier will be delivered within the life of this administration, this I can assure you.

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“It is not forgotten by the government. It will continue and we are doing everything we can to deliver it.”

The minister, however, stated that the carrier would not be funded solely by the government.

“It is a public-private partnership (PPP). The private sector will lead and deliver while the government will play its role,” he explained.

“Viability funding is also being addressed. After that, then the full business case which is the implementation stage. It is at that point that it will be advertised for people to come in and participate.”

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The minister lamented that besides the huge revenue loss due to the absence of a national carrier, Nigerians still pay exorbitantly to use air carriers belonging to other countries.

According to him, one of the major ways to save Nigerians of exorbitant airfares is to have a national carrier.

“When I was in the House of Representatives in 2006, we did invite British Airways to discuss and the answer we got was that they charge exorbitantly because Nigerians can afford it.

“They charge these fees without corresponding challenge. It is very difficult for the ministry to tell entrepreneurs what they should charge.

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”This is the whole importance of having a national carrier. It is about competition. Nigerians are highly mobile people with very huge businesses. You find out that the first class and business class is always full.”

Sirika had unveiled the name and logo of the proposed national carrier at the Farnborough International Airshow in London.

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