Discard national carrier idea, embrace flag carriers – Stakeholder tells Keyamo

The Federal Government has been told to discard the idea of a national carrier for Nigeria, rather should embrace the flag carrier’s option.

The government was also advised to concession the entire domestic airports alongside the international aerodromes but warned that the concession should not include the aeronautic aspect.

Grp. Capt. John Ojikutu, an aviation stakeholder stated these in Lagos in an interview with NewsTimes.

According to Ojikutu, rather than for the government to set up another national carrier, it should choose at least two indigenous airlines as flag carriers; one regional and continental, while the other should be deployed to the intercontinental routes for the country.

He suggested that the two carriers to be deployed should fly the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and must sell at least 30% of their shares to the public.

Ojikutu insisted that the national carrier project had become a government drain pipeline for misappropriation of public funds, maintaining that the era of the national carrier had since gone.

He emphasized that while Delta and Emirates airlines, for instance, have unfiltered access to most entry points in Nigeria, Nigerian carriers, especially Air Peace could not operate to any United States route, while its operations to Dubai and other regional routes were either being truncated or threatened.

He purported that those who are making it difficult for flag carriers to be so designated are the ones behind the establishment of a national carrier for Nigeria, describing it as institutional corruption.

Ojikutu further opined that like the flag carriers, the concessionaires of airports should also sell about 30% of their shares to the public for them to have some input.

He added:

  • “Even, British Airways is no longer a national carrier, but a flag carrier. So are all the American airlines after Panam. Government business in aviation today is regulations on safety, security, oversight, and enforcement, but not commercial.
  • “The government must be ready at the necessary time to provide recovery intervention funds for the flag carriers and the airport management companies. The government must not repeat or take the commercial responsibilities of any aviation services except the responsibilities of the oversight and enforcement of the safety and security regulations and the investigation of lapses in compliance with the regulations through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which is the responsible authority.
  • “Government should not support more than two airlines now on the BASA routes, especially when we are not too sure how many are complying sufficiently with the safety, security, and economic regulations.”

Mr. Festus Keyamo, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development had last week suspended the national carrier and airports concession projects, saying the government needed to look at the book before making a policy statement on them.

He insisted that the government was very responsive to the Nigerian people, saying that the two projects were the commonwealth of Nigerians, saying that they must not be executed in secrecy.

He said:

  • We have only suspended some things that we keep on complaining about. We are very responsive to the feelings of Nigeria. If something is good, but it is not transparent, Nigerian people must know the processes by which you give out their commonwealth. It is the commonwealth of Nigeria and Nigerians must be aware of how you give out their commonwealth in the name of concessions.
  • “It should not be kept secret. Tell the National Assembly who is overseeing us and tell the Nigerian people too and let them know through you that this process was transparent, and we got the best deal for Nigerians and that is why I have directed that all of those concessions should be suspended until I brief Mr. President.
  • “Nigeria Air should be suspended. I have directed until I brief Mr. President to make sure that everything is transparent. It is as simple as that. That is why some people are questioning my being appointed as a minister. 90%  of why I am here is about laws and interpretation and I will interpret it better for Nigeria.”

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