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Aviation experts still divided on how national carrier’ll shape business outlook

Whereas leading aviation professionals and domestic airline operators have continued to pick holes on the plan of the federal government to set up a new national carrier, saying the era had gone; few experts are still in support of the scheme.

The federal government who had set up a steering committee for the project made up of government officials without any private sector expert, recently announced that the scheme will take off by December 2018

According to the leadership of the Airlines Operators of Nigeria (AON), the best thing needed by the government to move the sector forward is not necessarily a national carrier, but provision of infrastructure and condusive environment for the growth of private sector operators.

Besides, a section of the AON is of the view that a new national carrier which may be troubled by official bureaucracy may push struggling domestic airlines out of business before it runs out of good management like the first national carrier, the Nigerian Airways (NA) liquidated in 2004.

To them, the first sign of seriousness in floating a national carrier would be to offset all pension and even salary arrears of retrenched staff of NA.

However, the President of Air Transport Staff Senior Services of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), Mr. Illitrus Ahmadu in an interview in Lagos, warned that without a national carrier, Nigeria would lose out of intense competition in the industry in the next five years.

In his submission, he argued that “For years now since the demise of Nigeria Airways, private airlines failed to make an impact in the domestic industry, we are well familiar with the reasons. I think it is time we move on. I find it strange when informed aviators still argue that the national carrier project will not improve the fortunes of our aviation industry and grow aviation’s contribution to GDP which currently is an insignificant 0.004 per cent.

“I know of several international airlines who want this project to succeed if for the least reason so, to enable partnership and access to other marketing arrangements. I believe with a national carrier that has capacity in terms of modern equipment and a competitive brand, our BASA rights that are lying fallow can be utilised.

Continuing, Ahmadu noted that “Let’s be positive about it and stop criticising those who believe the project will add value to our industry. Would you prefer the sustenance of the current status quo? We are all witnesses to how Arik Air squandered the opportunity of becoming the biggest private airline in Africa. We as a country have the highest mortality rate of private airlines on the continent.”

He stressed that the Federal Government could successfully run an enterprise like a new national carrier for the country if the right attitude, right team, good corporate governance and business strategy are made the watch word.

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