Mrs Stella Oduah
By Chinedu Eze
The legal framework for the new national carrier being planned by the federal government in order to address the crisis in the aviation sector is ready.
Mr. Joe Obi, the Special Adviser (Media) to the Minister of Aviation confirmed this to THISDAY yesterday, adding that the Minister of Aviation, Mrs Stella Oduah was waiting for final approval from the Presidency on the issue before commencing the implementation.
Obi said both the domestic and international airlines and other airlines that meet the set out criteria would be considered for the new national carrier status.
It was gathered yesterday that some Nigerian airlines, including those operating and those presently grounded, are lobbying government to be designated as the national carrier.
Although lobbying started some months back, it was intensified when it became obvious that government was determined to establish a national carrier for the country, which has the fastest growing air transport market in Africa.
Many industry observers and other Nigerians are urging government to establish entirely new airline, but sources say the federal government has made up its mind to build the new airline in partnership with either a domestic or an international carrier.
Industry expert and CEO of BeluJane Konsult, Chris Aligbe, told THISDAY that there is a lot to be gained in being designated a national carrier.
Aligbe said that the airline would be perceived differently and be treated differently because "it will now be seen as an airline that represents a country."
"Being designated national carrier, carries a lot of weight. You are designated in most of the Bilateral Air Service Agreements and your views are seriously taken into consideration. You can also negotiate commercial agreements with international airlines," Aligbe said.
He also said that the laws of a country where the airline operates into would be made beneficial to it and the airline will be recognised in diplomatic circles.
"But it also carries a lot of responsibilities. The airline can be called upon any time by government to meet national emergencies and carry out other responsibilities as directed by government.
"But like other airlines, it must follow the given procedure to become a member of International Air Transport Association (IATA) and also pass the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA)."