Stakeholders divided over planned national carrier

By Abel Orukpe  /  Correspondent, Lagos


As the Federal Government commenced talks with private investors on the proposed national carrier, opinions are divided among stakeholders in the aviation industry not only on the authenticity of government’s plan but also on the modalities for establishing the controversial national carrier.

The division among stakeholders on the issue is coming on the heels of the statement by the Aviation Minister, Mr Osita Chidoka that the Federal Government has entered into talks with private investors on the need to re-establish a national carrier for Nigeria.

Chidoka had said that the new national carrier would be commercially operated and handled by proven professionals.

The division is also coming after a failed attempt by the immediate past Aviation Minister,Mrs Stella Oduah to establish a national carrier called Nigeria One.

But speaking to Daily Independent in a telephone interview, the President of Aviation Round Table (ART),Capt Dele Ore, said that the government has no business establishing a national carrier for the country .

He argued that the idea of national carrier is now out of fashion, adding that what is in vogue today is flag carrier.

The ART boss stated that what is happening is that the Federal Government is obsessed with national carrier having had one before that was liquidated under a questionable circumstance.

Ore stated that since the Federal Government was obsessed with a national carrier, it should not have liquidated Nigeria Airways.

The aviation lawyer further argued that even if the Federal Government wants to establish a new national carrier, it should allow private sector to initiate the move.

He further contended that if the Federal Government initiates the process, it means that it already has some companies in mind that it preferred to drive the process.

Reminded that Chidoka said that the new national carrier would be managed by private investors, he stated: “That is what they have always been saying, let the private sector initiate it. How are we sure they will not kill the new one the way they killed NAL?”

He posited that if Nigeria establishes a national carrier with less than 50 airplanes, there was no way it can compete.

On his part, an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, said that Nigeria needs a national carrier and that there is nothing wrong in establishing one even if it means the Federal Government has to initiate the process of having one.

According to him: “Nigeria needs a national carrier and we cannot run away from getting  a national carrier for the country.”

The Federal Government must give the private investors who want to invest in the proposed national carrier guarantee for their investment if the planned establishment must succeed.

He posited that there is nothing bad if the Federal Government initiate the process and that apart from that government must have certain percentage of shares in the national carrier, adding that will further boost investors’ confidence

The aircraft engineer, added what government should do is that it should have a time within which to disengage itself from the project after sometimes.

Chidoka had said: “Conversations are on across many possible private sector organisations, both local airlines in Nigeria and some international airlines. We are totally changing the face of four key airports. Nigeria is studying the possibility of attracting private capital to do that”.

Source : Independent

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