Emirates offers to assist in setting up Nigeria’s national carrier
Emirates, UAE flag carrier Emirates has offered to assist Nigeria in setting up its national carrier, ‘Nigeria Air.’
Speaking on Tuesday during a panel session moderated by Richard Quest to discuss the future of Aviation at the Dubai Expo 2020, Tim Clark, president of Emirates said if the minister needs some assistance in practising a blueprint for the national carrier, Emirates would be very happy to help.
“There is an enormous business case for the national carrier. Nigerians are seeking to travel all over the world. Nigeria is a power house of Africa. We are very interested in flying there because it is a rich nation in terms of demand for services,” Clark said.
Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation who was also at the panel session emphatically stated the government’s commitment to a private-sector aviation industry, why Nigeria needs a National airline and response to Covid-19 pandemic.
On Nigeria’s response to the pandemic, Sirika said: “Look at the case of Nigeria. We have 200 million people in Nigeria and most of them live close to each other in cities jam-packed with 20 million people in Lagos and 40 million people in Kano, something has to be done unless people would die.
“We closed the country immediately at that time. And that is why in Nigeria, up till today, we recorded only 3,500 deaths from Covid19, and just about 250, 000 infected cases and 245,000 discharged from the hospital.
Sirika recalled that when he became minister in 2015, he was committed to a roadmap to establish a national carrier, concession the airports, set up leasing company and establish cargo facilities.
The minister hinted that a national carrier is critical for Nigeria because “Nigeria is situated at the centre of Africa, equidistant from all locations in Africa. If Central and Eastern Africa is the belt of the continent, then Nigeria is the buckle. With 200 million people and a rising middle class, the propensity to fly is high. Nigeria is a candidate for national carrier.”
Sirika stressed that the airline will be privately driven with only a 5 percent government’s stake, adding that there would be no government control and no membership of government on board.