The Minister of State, Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari will soon appoint the Transition Adviser that will develop the process for the establishment of a new national carrier.
Sirika, while addressing Aviation Stakeholders Forum in Abuja on Monday, said that the government would establish a national carrier that would be private sector driven.
He said that the government would also establish Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in the country, adding that the national carrier would serve as the base for such MRO.
The minister added that the government would create an enabling environment for the setting up of a world class MRO facility that would attract clientele from all over the world, especially Africa.
According to him, the MRO will further be encouraged to start the manufacturing of airplane spare parts with intent to go into manufacturing for long term.
He said that Nigeria had the capacity to become a hub in the African region, pointing out that if Ethiopia and Brazil could manufacture airplane parts, Nigeria could do it effectively.
Sirika said the government was also determined to address the challenges of the aviation sector through the establishment of Aerospace University that would specifically produce the needed workforce for better efficiency.
He also said that the government would also establish an aviation leasing company to solve the problem of access to capital and high cost of funds.
According to him, the company will also address the high debt profile of some airlines, inadequate number of aircraft and high interest rate.
“Aviation being international, a lot of transactions are done in foreign currency, aircraft acquisition, purchasing of spare parts, maintenance and training are all done in foreign currency.
“Domestic carriers sell their tickets in naira but buy their parts in foreign currency and that is why we are working towards making waiver on spare part importation permanent.
“Mr President has also ordered that the waiver in importation of airplane spare parts be continued,’’ he said.
Sirika said the forum was to ensure that the country had a better aviation industry with mutual benefit.
He added that the forum was also aimed at redesigning, redirecting and repositioning the aviation sector for better performance.
According to him, it is the time to take advantage of the market opportunity in Nigeria which is about 600 million people, comprising East and West Africa, which is twice the size of America.