Buhari’s Controversial Projects: FG Halts Nigeria Air, Suspends Airport Concession

The Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Federal Government has halted the national carrier project, stressing that Nigeria Air will not fly now.

Naija News reports that this was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, on Thursday.

According to the Minister, the controversial project carried out by the immediate past Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika under the Muhammadu Buhari administration will be properly audited.

While disclosing plans for comprehensive reform of the sector to put things right, Keyamo said that from October 1, all foreign airlines will originate their flights from the new terminal of the MMIA to pave the way for renovation of the old terminal.

Keyamo said: “Nigeria Air has been suspended until I brief the President, whom I owe absolute loyalty and honesty to the people of Nigeria, about all that transpired concerning that project.

“We have to ensure that everything is right before we can go ahead with further transactions on it.”

Recall that Ethiopian Airlines, which got the franchise to run Nigeria Air, was to have a 49 percent stake. Nigeria Sovereign Fund and the Federal Government provide 46 percent and five percent, respectively.

But local airliners, under the auspices of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), kicked against the project.

The past administration, on May 26, commissioned a plane with Nigeria Airlines inscription at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA).

The flight, which had on board Sirika and the Chief Commercial Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Lemma Gudeta, generated controversy from critics, who faulted the arrangement.

Meanwhile, Keyamo said the relocation of international airlines would pave the way for the rehabilitation of facilities at the old terminal building.

The minister said: “We must use what we have for now. I have given both international airlines and local airlines till 1st October to move from the old terminal to the new one.

“We are going to shut down the old terminal temporarily and sort out all the issues surrounding the old terminal, such as concession agreements.

“The old international terminal, right from the toilet facilities to the arrival, and departure halls, is an eyesore to Nigerians and foreigners.

The lifts are not working, and the passage is unwelcoming, and there is no air conditioner. We have the new terminal, but it cannot be used. It was designed without provision for big planes.

“I don’t know what happened, and I have been asking that question that makes them not to have avio-bridges that would lead to the big planes.”

The minister said that 60 percent of revenue generated by the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) comes from the Lagos airport.

Besides, Keyamo said Lagos remained the gateway into the country “and the first impression getting into the country.

Keyamo also gave owners of unserviceable aircraft littering the local wing of the airport to remove them within the next three months, failing which the government will dispense with them.

He said airlines, which are not utilising dead aircraft, should not occupy space needed to expand the apron.

Keyamo said: “I have directed the MD of FAAN that owners of these dead planes parked perpetually on the facility of the Federal Government to remove them.

“We are giving them three months to move them away, after which we shall be at liberty to do away with the aircraft. This is because we want to expand our apron.”

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