FORMER Virgin Nigeria Airways boss Captain Dapo Olumide has been named as the interim managing director of the new proposed national carrier Nigeria Air as plans to float the new airline with Qatar Airways as a major stakeholder get underway.
In 2018 at the Farnborough Air Show in the UK, aviation minister Senator Hadi Sirika announced plans to launch the national carrier Nigeria Air in December 2018. It was to fly to 80 different destinations and would have had a fleet of 30 aircraft but the project was later scrapped after it was discovered that no budgetary provision had been made for the venture.
Since then, the Nigerian government has been desperately trying revive the project, wooing investors and foreign airlines to take out stakes in the venture. Dr James Odaudu, the director of media in the aviation ministry, confirmed the appointment of Captain Olumide, who is expected to carry out the processes and procedures for the registration of the new airline.
His tasks will include securing an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the recruitment of personnel, acquiring offices and the acquisition and choice of aircraft for the airline’s operations. officials are keen to get the airline up and running soon, with an inaugural flight expected as early as October.
There are also indications that Qatar Airways may become the core investor of national carrier. It was chosen from among three international carriers, including Ethiopia Airlines and Turkish Airlines and might be consulted for the establishment of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility.
Chris Aligbe, the chief executive of BeluJane Konsult, said that the choice of Qatar Airways was because it guarantees a better future for the new national airline. He added that the core investor could place its aircraft fleet at the disposal of the new carrier for leasing, which would make it easy for Nigeria Air to obtain its AOC without long process because Qatar Airways is already an operating airline.
Mr Aligbe said: “Because the core investor has everything that may be required in terms of technical requirements, personnel and capacity, some of the processes of AOC could be short circulated. The airline is expected to start operations after the second quarter and it will not take long before it will go international and passengers can book to go to anywhere in the world, China, UK, US because the core investor has developed these routes.”