Nigeria suspends national air carrier project two months after launch

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Nigeria suspends plans to launch a new national airline

The Federal Government (FG), on Wednesday suspended its controversial national carrier project, Nigeria Air that was due to take off in December.

This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, while addressing the media.

According to Sirika, the decision to indefinitely suspend the procurement of Nigeria Air, was taken at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

“I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the National Carrier Project in the interim. All commitments due will be honoured,” Aviation minister Hadi Sirika said on Wednesday.

Nigeria Air – Bringing Nigeria Closer to the World

The announcement comes barely two months after Nigeria unveiled Nigeria Air at the Farnborough Air Show in London on July 18 which was aimed at bringing “Nigeria closer to the world.”

During its unveiling, Sirika said it was going to run as a business and not a social service with an initial capital of $300million.

“Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it. The investors will have full responsibility for this.”

Critics and industry experts were wary of the project when it was launched in July, arguing that Nigeria cannot afford it at this time.

They also said the financial crisis that engulfed the defunct Nigeria Airways had not been resolved more than a decade after the national career stopped operations.

But President Muhammadu Buhari was adamant about launching a new airline for the country, a project he promised during campaign in 2015.

In the 2017 budget, the federal government, allocated the sum of N555 million for the establishment of national carrier and N200 million for consultancy, while in the 2018 budget, N50 million was allocated for the establishment of the carrier and another N20 million was apportioned for consultancy.

The Nigerian government awarded from 6 Communications, a branding and advertising agency co-founded by Pennie Nixon and Steve Doleman, the branding contract for the national carrier.

The contract was reportedly worth $600,000 (N183 million). The flowing green and white ribbon was heavily criticised by Nigerians, who berated the government for outsourcing the contract to a foreign company.

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