The controversial Nigeria Air project that was put on hold by the Federal Government would still sail, afterall as Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, says the proposed national carrier project is alive and is currently at the procurement stage, awaiting the approval of the Federal Executive Council.
The minister added that the estimated funding requirement for the establishment of the project was $300m up until 2020.
Sirika also discredited claims that the government spent $600,000 on the design of the logo after the carrier was unveiled at the Farnborough Airshow in London in July.
The minister spoke in Abuja on Thursday at the Fifth Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum.
Sirika said, ‘‘In recent months, misinformation, factual errors, insinuations and fabrications have been peddled in both social and print media on the Nigeria Air project.
‘‘These include desirability, inadequate planning, non-consultation with stakeholders, lack of transparency and publications of fictitious amounts allegedly spent by the government on the project, among others.’’
He declared that the Federal Government was determined to clarify these issues and set the records straight.
He explained that the current effort to establish the national carrier predated the composition of the present FEC and his appointment as a minister.
‘‘Mr. President directed the then Ministry of Aviation to commence the process for the establishment of a national carrier during the ministerial briefing on the aviation sector.
‘‘The ministry set up a committee, which came up with the modalities for the establishment of a national carrier.
‘‘The committee, in its report submitted in September 2015, recommended a private sector-led national carrier with 10 per cent government ownership and non-involvement of government in the management of the airline, but the provision of enabling environment for its operation,’’ he said.
The minister said that following approval by the FEC, a consortium of Transaction Advisers comprising Airline Management Group Ltd., Avia Solutions Ltd and Tianaero FZE, was appointed in line with best practices.
move to the procurement phase and then Full Business Case, where it will be opened for bidding by investors, including ordinary Nigerians.
The minister explained that the estimated funding requirement for the establishment of the project was $300m up to 2020.
He added that the expected initial start–up capital of $55m was made up of $25m for deposit for new aircraft and $30m for working capital from June to December 2018.
According to him, the estimated working capital for 2019 is $100m and $145m for 2020 to be provided by the Strategic Equity Partners who are expected to manage the project.
‘‘Certain media publications that $8.8m was expended at the Farnborough Air show are unfounded, malicious, misleading, mischievous and baseless.
‘‘The TAs for national carrier coordinated the campaign and provided the additional services that included the development of the brand strategy and the media activities relating to the unveiling of the airline.
Sirika said the Nigeria Air project was not lacking investors, stressing that institutions and airlines such as the African Development Bank, AFREXIM, US-EXIM, Standard Chartered Bank, Boeing, Airbus and China-Exim Bank, were some of the interested partners.