The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has assured Nigerians that the national airliner will swing into full operation by the first quarter of 2022.
He said this on Wednesday while answering questions from State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Sirika added that his ministry would, in two weeks, submit a proposal for the project for FEC’s approval.
He assured Nigerians that despite the initial delays, the Federal Government was still working hard to launch the national carrier and get it working.
He said the coronavirus pandemic stalled the plans and launch of the project.
Sirika underscored the project’s importance to Nigeria’s economy, stressing that the population size, vantage geographical location and other natural factors made the national carrier an economic necessity.
He said, “In this 2021, we will try to do all the needful and probably we intend to start operations somewhere around first quarter 2022.
“It is still in top gear, we are coming back to council, hopefully within the next two weeks to present the memo on the national carrier.
“We went to council to approve the outline business case for the carrier and then the council raised some questions and asked us to go and do the memo again and bring it back.
“So, once it comes back and the outline business case is approved by council, then of course, we will now go to the full business case, which is now going to the market and then establishing the national carrier.
“It was our intention to have a national carrier running in 2021, which is this year, unfortunately due to COVID-19, which took the greater part of last year, since March last year, activities were almost impossible.
“This in itself, though negatively affected civil aviation in terms of the establishment of the national carrier, makes it a much better time to establish the carrier than before.”