The federal government on Friday declared Ethiopian Airlines Consortium as preferred bidder of the proposed Nigeria Air Limited with a combined score (Technical and Financial Bid) of 86.7 per cent.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, noted that all preparations for the establishment of the national carrier, Nigeria Air are concluded and the airline will kick off within six to eight weeks.
Sirika said the airline has commenced recruitment of pilots, cabin crew and the aircraft will be coming into the country in a week’s time.
The minister, while briefing the press on the status of the project, said the full business case for the establishment of the airline will be expected to be approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
According to him, “After a careful, detailed and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) governed selection process, Ethiopian Airlines (ET) consortium has been selected as preferred bidder, offering an owner consortium of three Nigerian investors MRS, SAHCO and the Nigerian Sovereign Fund (46 per cent) FGN owning five per cent and ET 49 per cent.
“The consortium has been subject to a due diligence process, after which the contract will be negotiated between the consortium and the FGN, leading to a Full Business Case, which will be expected to be approved Federal Executive Council (FEC). We expect this process to take 6-8 weeks.”
On the money spent so far, the minister said “the money spent for the launch of Nigeria Air, (about N400 million) for all the requirements to establish an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and be admitted starting an airline operation, is well within the five per cent capital investment of the Federal Government of Nigeria, that will be overall needed to establish the national carrier initially for the AOC approval and everything else required by stringent national aviation regulations, as prescribed in the FEC approved Outline Business Case (OBC).
“No further FGN funding will be provided above the five per cent share capital of the next national carrier of Nigeria, which was provided to launch Nigeria Air.”
The minister also said “Nigeria Air will launch with a shuttle service between Abuja and Lagos to establish a new comfortable, reliable and affordable travel between these two major Nigerian Airports; as other domestic destinations will follow thereafter.
“The Request for Proposal (RFP) under the PPP Act, governed by ICRC, is completed.”
Also, the minister said the national carrier is to be launched with three new Boeing 737-800 (not wet lease) with a configuration very suitable for the Nigerian market and they will grow to 30 and 40 within three and four years.