National carrier gets licence today, local airlines fault process

National carrier gets licence today, local airlines fault process

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority is to present an Air Transport Licence to the interim management of Nigeria’s national carrier – Nigeria Air, on Monday (today) barring any unforeseen change in plans, it was gathered on Sunday.

An Air Transport Licence is issued as authorisation to airlines to provide scheduled and non-scheduled services.

It is one of the licences received by airlines before they can commence operation just as they await the all-important Air Operator Certificate that fully guarantees them the right to begin air services.

The issuance of an ATL to Nigeria Air on Monday will be coming four years after the branding and livery of the new airline was unveiled by the Federal Government during the Farnborough Air Show in London.

Impeccable sources at the Federal Ministry of Aviation told our correspondent that the issuance of an ATL to the carrier on Monday (today) was to ensure that the airline commences operations in a couple of months.

In July 2018, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, unveiled the branding and livery for Nigeria Air in London and stated that the airline would be inaugurated at the end of that year. But this did not happen.

Since then there had been several efforts to get the proposed new airline running, as interim management was created recently to drive the process for the full establishment of the carrier. “The NCAA will on Monday, June 2022 present the Air Transport License to the interim management of the Nigeria Air, Nigeria’s national carrier,” a senior official at the FMA, who pleaded not to be named due to lack of authorisation, stated.

The official added, “The ATL will be presented at the NCAA corporate headquarters at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport,” as the source noted that this was sequel to an earlier application by Nigeria Air where it requested for an ATL from the civil aviation regulator.

In late March this year, Nigeria Air Limited announced that it had applied to the NCAA for a licence to operate scheduled and non-scheduled passenger and cargo services.

It disclosed this in a public notice and explained that this was part of the requirements for granting an Air Operating Licence.

Sirika had said, “The transitional adviser is going to request for proposal next week Monday. The government will own five per cent, Nigerians will own 46 per cent and the international partner airlines will take 49 per cent shares.”

Local airlines fault process, expert raises concerns Reacting to the move, an industry expert and President of the Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, Kingsley Nwokoma, stated that the government should tell whether it had got investors for the carrier.

This came as an official of local airlines under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria stated on Sunday that the AON had made its position known about moves to float a national carrier, stressing that the initiative must be transparent.

Commenting on the issue, Nwokoma said, “The minister has been on this for a while and apparently it looks like one of the key projects he wants to achieve before leaving office. This has taken a long time.

“But for me, it is important that we have investors in place because, of course, it is not the government that is to fully run the airline. We’ve been told that Nigerians will also have the opportunity to invest.

“However, we are not hearing much on that (investment) part of the story, we are not seeing the process. Well, perhaps the government may assume that if it gets the licences out, that may spur investors. So, let’s see how it works.”

In AON’s position on the establishment of a national carrier, the association stated that “though the national carrier thing is an obsolete idea worldwide, the AON is not opposed to its establishment.”

The AON, however, stated that it would like to bring some serious issues to the fore as they relate to the manner in which the proposed national carrier project was being presented to the Federal Government and Nigerians.

“The process is not transparent, is shrouded in secrecy and being championed by Nigerians and foreigners, unknown to Nigerians and various stakeholders,” the association stated in a statement signed by its President, Abdulmunaf Sarina, and endorsed by 10 other chief executives and chairmen of various domestic airlines.

It added, “It is pertinent to note that there is no prospectus issued for public scrutiny or investment appraisal in the process of setting up the proposed carrier.

“The so-called national carrier is a private airline being promoted as a national entity using taxpayers and government resources.

“There is no way an enterprise where the Federal Government is said to hold five per cent equity can be called a national carrier. Private people should not use the commonwealth of Nigeria for their private business.”

The AON stated that the country was surrendering its sovereign wealth to foreigners through the national carrier.

“We, in AON, oppose vehemently any decision or action that is tantamount to selling the country’s commonwealth to any foreign airline for free or for peanuts,” the association stated.”

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