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National carrier: FG interested in setting up fresh entity, not existing airline

At a time speculations are very high on the chances of the Federal Government resorting to merging two recently revived domestic airlines, Arik Air and Aero to form a national carrier, a reliable source in the Presidency Wednesday, hinted that “I don’t think that the government is considering setting up any national carrier from existing airlines but a brand new fleet powered by the private sector.”

Since last month, there had been news making the rounds that Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) had advised the Federal Government to consider merging Arik Air and Aero to form a national carrier.

But a number of industry analysts and experts have warned the government not to embark onv such gamble to avoid early failure.

In his assessment of the AMOCN position, Chris Aligbe, said setting up a national carrier would need a new set of aircrafts that must be driven by private sector investment to avoid complicating the well articulated Nigeria Air project.

He further argued that such a decision will create serious anger and internal crisis especially when the mindsets of the original owners of the airlines are viewed.

He said besides, such idea may spark off another round of legal tussle against the Federal Government.

Aligbe made it clear that “A healthy and virile establishment cannot be founded on the back of unhealthy and struggling entities; no sensible investor will invest in such establishment.

“Where no investors come, such a national carrier will exist on 100 per cent government equity, just like the liquidated Nigeria Airways.”

It would be recalled that the Chief Executive Officer of AMCON, Ahmed Kuru, had told the National Assembly to merge Arik and Aero and use them to float a national carrier rather than starting a brand new one.

In his response, aviation security consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd.), said “The local and foreign debts on Arik cannot make it possible with the present fleet and operating routes,” sounding a note of warning that “Any attempt to move outside this statute will occasion international litigations that could be unresolved for many years. This is because both the original owners and creditors will head to court to challenge the Federal Government.”