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Sirika NAir

Angola’s national carrier takes position ahead of AfCFTA, begins flight to Nigeria

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As the Federal Government is yet to present a clear policy that will drive Nigeria Air as the emerging national carrier, African national carriers are currently expanding their frontiers and capacities in view of the long awaited full takeoff of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) regime from July next year.

Only this week, the Angolan national carrier, TAAG Angola Airlines, has commenced flights into Nigeria.

Business Hilights recalls that towards the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office, ministerial differences engulfed the solo move of the then Minister of State for Aviation, who is now the substantive minister of the sector, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Whereas the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi claimed that the project hanged because there was discordant voices at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting when the issue came up for debate, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the project went into coma as soon as government noticed cold feet of earlier interested core investors.

However, only recently the aviation stakeholders raised fresh debate on whether Nigeria Air should be driven by the private sector or the Federal Government even as a section of the industry players are thinking that a combination of debt-ridden Arik Air and Aero-Contractors can fill the gap.

Just as the supervising minister, Senator Sirika had decided to keep everyone incommunicado based on his economy of words on his real plan for a national carrier, on Monday afternoon, TAAG Angola Airlines landed its maiden flight at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos.

The Chief Executive Officer, TAAG Angola Airlines, Dr Rui Carreira, said the over 50-year old carrier had been trying to expand into Nigeria in the past years but recently got the opportunity to do so.

He said the process to begin flight operations into Nigeria took over one year to achieve.

“This inaugural flight is a dream come through and we hope to increase our destination in Nigeria and the neighbouring countries,” he said.

Carreira said the expansion was part of plans to not only increase the airline’s network but also promote business between Nigeria and Angola.

“We hope that our governments will work hard to facilitate the movement of our people,” he said.

According to him, the airline will operate Luanda to Lagos flight services twice weekly using a Boeing 737-700.

He said, “We are very excited to be announcing our new service to Lagos – the latest destination added to our network that will further connect African countries and beyond and by which we expect positive results.

“This route will allow easy connections to and from Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, Lisbon and Porto.”

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