By Gabriel Agbeja
The establishment of a National Carrier will enable Nigeria to gain optimally from the Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) with other nations, Mr James Odaudu, the Director of Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, has said.
Odaudu said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
NAN reports that BASA is a treaty signed between two countries to allow international commercial air transport services between territories.
BASA promotes international air links between countries which support and enable the movement of persons, cargo, trade and tourism.
Odaudu recalled that the Federal Government had earlier announced the signing of BASAs with the U.S., India, Morocco and Rwanda.
“Establishment of the national carrier will also make Nigeria take full advantage of the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM), introduce competition leading to competitive fares, better services and generate employment,” he said.
The Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, had in 2020 while defending the ministry’s budget at the Senate said that the new national carrier would start in 2021.
He stated that all required agreements and arrangements with other partners for the inauguration had been worked out and that the new flag carrier would start with domestic and regional airline services.
He said that the present administration since its inception in 2015 had been planning and strategising on how to resuscitate the national carrier.
Giving further explanation, the director said that the national carrier project would be private-sector driven with the government holding not more than five per cent of the shares.
He further said that the private sector consortium could comprise reputable international Airlines, leasing companies, aircraft manufacturers, financial and institutional investors.
Odaudu said that the Federal Government would provide the required support by creating the enabling environment to sustain the airline.
According to him, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has also completed a feasibility study of the proposed airline.
“Project Development Phase” was completed with the development of the outline by ICRC.
“The next phase is the placement of Request For Qualification (RFQ) in local and international media as part of the procurement exercise,” he said.
The director also said that the plan by the Federal Government to concession four international airports in the country would help fast-track upgrades and enhance their operational efficiency.
The director further said that the concession would strengthen profitability and reposition the airports for competitiveness.
“The project is being structured as a terminal concession under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement between government and the Private Sector.
“The private investor will be required to upgrade, manage and operate the airports` terminals over the concession period.
“The concession will be in the following airports: Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos; Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa; and the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano’’ he said.
According to him, the Project Development Phase has been completed as well as the development of the Outline Business Case (OBC) and subsequent issuance of a compliance certificate by the ICRC.
Odaudu added that the next step would be the placement of Request For Qualification (RFQ) in local and international media.(NAN)