The establishment of Nigeria Air was to rectify the failures of the past in operations of national carriers by government and the private sector, former minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said.
Sirika said during an interaction with newsmen on Monday in Abuja that the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari incorporated Nigeria Air as a private company.
“When we looked at past efforts to drive a national carrier by both the government and private sector, we saw that we need to initiate a different approach that will launch Nigeria into global reckoning.
“The idea was that we should have less of government investment to make it a purely business driven venture that will work effectively and efficiently and achieve world class standard.
“We therefore invited local and foreign investors with credible records to form part of the proposed national carrier. The shareholders of this airline went through due process before their selection,” he said.
Sirika pointed out that the display of the aeroplane that heralded the inauguration was a market strategy employed by the shareholders to launch the business in the minds of customers in Nigeria.
He said that every business venture has different strategy of making lasting impression on the minds of its different target audience, adding that no money was spent in doing that on May 26.
The former minister said that as an expert in aviation industry the estimated take off period of the Nigeria Air would be in the next three or four weeks.
Sirika decried the gullible nature of the public that consumes all stories without subjecting such to strenuous scepticism and caution.
“Nigerians need to have more faith in the government to encourage it carry out development programmes and projects that are beneficial to the populace.
“The general apathy and disbelieve in anything that government does must change,” he said.
The former minister gave an example of an encounter with a Kenyan who chose to have strong belief in government policy even though she did not vote for it during election.
“I asked the lady why she was still driving taxi long after hours and she replied that it was because government had asked everyone to put in an extra one hour in order to improve the economy.
“She said even though she didn’t vote for the party in power, she had to believe them because they are the government in power and will take the right step in the interest of its citizen.”
Industry experts say starting an airline is tough and running a profitable one even tougher.
They listed some requirements for establishing an airline to include obtaining air transport licence, airline operating permit, air operator certificate, and foreign carrier operating permit.
It also requires registering an aircraft, aerodrome certification and air transport licence.
Nigeria Air has an ownership structure of 49 per cent held by Ethiopian Airlines, 46 per cent by Nigerian private investors, including SAHCO, MRS and other institutional investors, and five per cent by the Federal Government.
The airline was unveiled three days before the end of the Buhari administration.