The Minister of State Aviation, Senator Sirika, received the certificate of compliance for the Outline Business Case which was presented by the Director General Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Engr. Chidi Izuwah, who said that the national carrier is a bankable project that is expected to make profit from the third year of operation.
The Minister commended the efforts of the ICRC Director General and his team in ensuring that the National Carrier project has remained on track through the observation of all legal aid regulatory frameworks. He also expressed satisfaction with the way the Transaction Advisers have carried out their assignments with utmost diligence and timelyness.
According to the Minister, “there is no doubt that the issue of national carrier for Nigeria is very close to the hearts of both government and the people, which is the reason it has taken the option of a Public Private Partnership with the belief that it was the only way to deliver a national carrier that would stand the test of time”.
He debunked claims that the National Carrier would run down other airlines operating in the country and noted that Nigeria has a population of over 180million people with so many routes not fully serviced, which offered more than enough space for all serious airlines to operate profitably. He called on the private sector to see the National Carrier as a competition.
“Having a world class airline is extremely important in the scheme of things. We are determined not to go wrong and to have everything in place according to the law” Sirika added.
He emphasized that the airline if established, will take advantage of the Financial Air Services Agreement that Nigeria has with over 70 countries and also take advantage of the Single Africa Air Transport Market “It is not intended to kill business, it is intended to promote business, to compete in the business.
Speaking earlier, the Director General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Engr Chidi Izuwah said that the presentation of the Certificate of Compliance was an official green light to proceed with the procurement process.
He said that his Commission, in granting the Certificate reviewed the Project Structuring Report, also known as the Outline Business Case, in line with the ICRC Act of 2005.
According to Izuwah, the Certificate was granted on the condition that the Federal government was committed to leveraging on private sector capital and expertise towards the establishment of the national carrier through the provision of a Viability Gap Funding for the project.
He noted that in certifying the business, the airline will not be like the Nigerian Airways or like the old national carriers. “This will be a private sector managed airline. We have made it very clear in our certificate that it will have a strategic world class equity partner who will manage, operate and make the management decisions”.
He stated other conditions for granting the Certificate of Compliance to an official commitment to zero contribution to airline management decisions and zero government control, warning that any attempt to impose government control would invalidate the Certificate and the entire process.
The Minister, while responding to Mr. Izuwah’s address, also disclosed that unveiling of the name of the national carrier, logo, brand, colour, scheme, structure, as well as type of airplanes, will be unveiled on July 18, 2018, while flights operations will begin onDecember 19, 2018.
He further assured that, regardless of the funding from the government, the management of the airline will never be in the hands of government, adding that they will never go back to what Nigerian Airways used to be.
“We will make the investment and we will be patient enough to follow the business plan and understand the management of private sector. The intent of this also is to get to the 30 aircraft mark in the next five years.
“We will begin slowly with a minimum of three to five aircrafts. Maybe the day we will be launching, we launch with three or five airplanes and we will continue building the airline by adding air planes” he said.
“The outline business case is very clear and I assure Nigerians that whatever we are doing in this ministry, is in accordance with the law and transparently done so. Therefore, they are at liberty to query me or to ask the Ministry to give them information on anything they think is shrouded in secrecy.
He stressed that the certificate clearly states that there will be zero contribution by the government to the decisions of the management, adding that the management will have the free hand to run the airline as a clear, visible and bankable business.