The Nigerian Federal Government is moving fast with the establishment of the much-awaited national carrier. The government selected “a preferred partner”, and they are in the final stage of the Full Business Scale (FBS). The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika is keeping the preferred bidder’s identity close to his chest.
This comes as the Nigerian government’s multi-million dollar aircraft Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) is also coming on stream. The proposed MRO facility in Nigeria will serve the maintenance demands of airlines in West and Central Africa and also provide maintenance for the national carrier and African leasing company.
Nigerian Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika spoke to AirInsight about the facility and said the MRO will be structured as a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) model. The government will act as both the grantor of the concession and facilitator of the project. The private partner consortium will be responsible for designing, building, financing, operating, and maintaining the proposed facility for an agreed concession period. The establishment of aircraft maintenance facilities in Nigeria would help airlines repair their aircraft in Nigeria and save the country a whopping $117 million on annual aircraft offshore maintenance.
Cost of maintanance could be reduced by 50 percent
On average, Nigerian airlines pay at least $2.8m per C-Checks while competitors accomplish this for closer to $500,000. Then adding insurance premiums paid on Nigerian aircraft are quadruple of what other airlines pay. The cost of Nigerian aircraft maintenance would be reduced by at least 50 percent with a domestic maintenance facility.
Sirika said: “The Consortium is expected to comprise an Independent MRO company, Real Estate development company, Construction company, Financial and institutional investor. The proposed facility will have the capacity to serve both narrow- and wide-bodied aircraft maintenance requirements and will be located in Abuja, Nigeria”.
Speaking on the preferred partner for the soon-to-be-established national airline, the Minister stated that the establishment of a national carrier would enable Nigeria to gain optimal benefits from Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA). It would take full advantage of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), introduce competition, leading to competitive fares with better services and also generate employment.
Nigeria Air is not the first attempt by the Nigerian government to run a national carrier. Nigeria Airways, in which the government-owned a majority stake, folded in 2003. Air Nigeria, a later iteration of Nigeria’s flag carrier set up with the government and Virgin Group, ceased its operations in 2012.
EgyptAir is partnering with Ghana to set up a low-cost airline and by extension a national airline, Qatar Airways is investing in RwandAir and also investing in their home base airport. Qatar Airways is also in talks with Air Côte d’Ivoire for plans to make the country a hub in West Africa.