By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
The Nigerian national airliner should be in full operation by the first quarter of 2022, Minister of Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika has assured the citizens.
Sirika, who was fielding questions from State House Correspondents yesterday, after the post-Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, in the Presidential Villa, said his ministry would be submitting a fine-tuned proposal for the project to the council in two weeks.
According to him, the Federal Government was still very much working on getting the national carrier started. But, he noted that the outbreak of COVID-19 hampered the conclusion of plans as well as take-off of the project.
He emphasised that the project was very important to Nigeria’s economy, pointing out that with the size of the population, the vantage geographical location and other natural factors, the national carrier was an economic necessity for the country.
“In this 2021, we’ll try to do all the needful and probably we intend to start operations somewhere around first quarter 2022. It is still in top gear, we are coming back to council, hopefully within the next two weeks, to present the memo on the national carrier.
“We went to council to approve the outline business case for the carrier and then the council raised some questions and asked us to go and fair the memo again and bring it back. So, once it comes back and the outline business case is approved by council, then of course, we will now go to the full business case, which is now going to the market and then establishing the national carrier.
“It was our intention to have a national carrier running in 2021, which is this year, unfortunately due to COVID, which took the greater part of last year, since March last year, activities are almost impossible. This in itself, though negatively affected civil aviation in terms of the establishment of the national carrier, it makes it much better time to establish the carrier than before.
“Of course, for obvious reasons, we now have access to equipment, that they will come faster to us, deliveries of the aircraft will be faster, perhaps even the rates might be cheaper and so on, and so forth.”