By Gabriel Agbeja
The Federal Government of Nigeria, on Friday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, took delivery of a Boeing 737-8000 aircraft to launch Nigeria Air.
Speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace, Sen. Hadi SIrika, said there are plans to create a fleet of 35 aircraft by 2028.
According to him, the achievement is the fulfilment of the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari to revive the national carrier before the end of his term, one of his 2015 election campaign promises.
NAN recalls that Ethiopian Airlines is the preferred bidder for shares in Nigeria Air.
Ethiopian Airlines will own a 49 per cent stake in the new airline, while the Nigerian Sovereign Fund will take 46 per cent and the Nigerian Federal Government the remaining 5 per cent.
`Certainly, we in the Ministry of Aviation in Nigeria and Aerospace understood the importance of infrastructure as a catalyst for economic growth and development. And these infrastructures include the soft infrastructure of airlines.
“The preferred bidder, Ethiopia, as a country as well as the second largest economy in Africa after Nigeria, are largely dependent on Ethiopia Airline. They have been operating the airline for over 70 years.
“Also, Ethiopia as a country, just to underscore the process of aviation especially the airline, is the only airline with Qatar to record US$1 billion during COVID-19.
“Really, airline infrastructure is a driver of the economy. It is a catalyst for growth and economy,” Sirika said.
According to him, air transportation is the key to achieve AU Agenda 2063 in Aviation, which is Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future.
He said the agenda aimed to deliver on Africa’s goal for inclusive, sustainable development and concrete manifestation of the pan-African drive for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity pursued under Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.
“Nigeria, by the grace of God Almighty, is the centre of Africa. We are more than 250 million vibrant and brilliant people, who travel a lot by air.
“So, we have a population, we have geography, we have the economy, we have the people, we have the market. Nigeria has the largest population in Africa followed by Ethiopia.
“So, it is a very laudable process we went through,” he said.
The minister said all projects contained in the aviation roadmap would be driven by Public Private Partnership for better performance. (NAN)