The Airline Operators of Nigeria, have expressed their commendation and support for the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo’s decision to suspend every activity related to the implementation of Nigeria Air, national carrier, and other projects.
The association stated this in a statement by its spokesperson, Prof Obiora Okonkwo, on Friday.
According to the statement, the AON thanked the minister for showing rare courage and great patriotism in order to save Nigeria from further embarrassment in the aviation industry.
Keyamo had while on a visit to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos on Thursday suspended the Nigeria Air and airport concession projects until he briefs Mr President on his findings.
The statement partly reads, “We, the entire membership of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, commend the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Olorogun Festus Keyamo SAN, for suspending every activity related to the operationalisation of Nigeria Air.
“By the action, the minister has displayed rare courage and great patriotism to save Nigeria from further embarrassment in the aviation world.
Aside from stakeholders in the aviation industry, it was evident to everyone who had followed developments around the Nigeria Air project under the immediate past administration that the idea was not only ill-thought-out but also lacked any modicum of transparency.
“It was therefore no surprise that the House of Representatives Committees on Aviation which investigated the process and purported launch of Nigeria Air on Friday, June 2, 2023, described it as a ‘fraud’.”
Okonkwo further noted that the AON, along with other stakeholders in the aviation industry, had long held the belief that the Nigeria Air project, under the previous administration, was ill-thought-out and lacked transparency, adding that this sentiment was reinforced by the House of Representatives Committees on Aviation, who referred to the project as a ‘fraud’ in their investigation.
It could not progress to phase two of the AOC process in June 2023, according to a letter from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
However, the AON said it remained confident that the suspension of the Nigeria Air project would allow for a thorough review, and the minister would work towards putting things right and restore Nigeria’s image in the global aviation community.
It also said it believed that floating a national carrier on the terms set out by the previous aviation minister would be detrimental to the aviation sector in Nigeria, potentially leading to the dominance of Ethiopian Airlines.
The statement reads,” It remains a puzzle to Nigerians why the processes of actualizing such a major national project were shrouded in almost utter secrecy until the end of the last government. However, we remain confident that by suspending the Nigeria Air project to allow for a thorough review, Aviation Minister Festus Keyamo SAN will put things right and help restore Nigeria’s image in the global aviation family.
“AON continues to believe that it is not right to float a national carrier on the terms set out by the last Aviation Minister, which would undermine, even destroy, the aviation sector in Nigeria with Ethiopian Airlines waiting on the wings for a total takeover.
“We have no doubt that the new Aviation Minister has the right vision for the development of the sector which is driven by public interest considerations for the good of Nigerians.
“Again, the AON commends the minister for the great leadership he has shown so early in his tenure and pledges our unalloyed support in his quest to reform the aviation sector and implement other components of the aviation roadmap for the overall good of the Nigerian economy.”