The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said that the federal government can’t convert Arik Air into a national carrier because it doesn’t meet the required standards.
The minister told State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, on Wednesday that: “I think something is not understood very well from the standpoint of the Ministry of Aviation via the intended national carrier. The carrier that I intend to bring is such a carrier that will support national economy, with $450 million GDP for 200million people, very equipped to compete favourably.
“The international airlines that have dominated Africa, 80 percent of those airlines are non-African. In view of the AU Agenda 2063, the Single African Aviation Market, we thought that there will be an airline that will take up that challenge; that will take advantage of it and be able to provide services to our people.
“Nigeria, being the first country to kick-start the declaration in 1999, to establish a one common market in Africa; at the time, we wanted to take advantage of the Nigeria Airways which was the strongest airline on the continent, and we thought that we could take advantage of that and it would pay Nigeria very well. Tables turned, decisions were reversed and now, Nigeria was unlucky to have an airline that can participate in that manner.
“Arik, as presently constituted, is not in line with the thinking of the ministry. It will not be able to give us that airline that we need. However, Arik as an entity, since it is private-sector driven, can either buy shares in the new ventures or invest in any manner in the business as presently approved. We are not saying once we have a national carrier, every other airline goes down. No. It is our duty to continue to support businesses,” he said.