Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The federal government, through the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, Wednesday revealed the branding and livery for a new national flag carrier, Nigeria Air, due to be launched in December.
Sirika performed the unveiling at a press conference at the Farnborough Air Show in London, United Kingdom.
According to a statement in Abuja by the ministryâ€™s Deputy Director, Media and Public Affairs, Mr. James Odaudu, the unveiling was attended by a cross section of the international press, Nigerian dignitaries, stakeholders, aircraft manufacturers, prospective investors and a Nigerian government delegation, including Mr. Sule Zakari, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation; Senator Adamu Aliero, Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation; and Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Chairperson, House Committee on Aviation.
It added that the ceremony included a short film, showing an aircraft with the new Nigeria Air livery.
According to the statement, the minister said: “I am very pleased to tell you that we are finally on track to launching a new national flag carrier for our country, Nigeria Air.
“We are all fully committed to fulfilling the campaign promise made by our President, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015. We are aiming to launch Nigeria Air by the end of this year.â€
He explained: “Following extensive market research, the branding of our new airline, Nigeria Air, demonstrates a true flag carrier of our nation, soaring through the skies in the shape of our nation’s eagle.”
He said the branding and naming of the new national carrier came on the back of a social media campaign undertaken under the auspices of the Ministry of Transportation (Aviation), which invited Nigerian youths and students for their input and creativity to come up with a name for the new Nigerian flag carrier.
He said detailed and extensive market research was commissioned by the ministry, which involved focus groups across Nigeria and over 100 interviews with aviation stakeholders and professionals, politicians, Nigerian business owners, students and a broad spectrum of people across Nigeria.
The minister said the research concluded that Nigeria is a proud nation with diverse populace, a strong cultural heritage and a people that were hungry for a unifying national flag carrier.
The Ministry of Transportation (Aviation) is also currently running an aviation road map that includes airport concessions, Aerotropolis, an aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Centre, agro-allied terminals, the national carrier and an aircraft leasing company.
Sirika said: “The Nigerian government will support the launch of the new flag carrier with viability gap funding, in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement to deliver a national flag carrier, guided by the international ICAO standards that will stand the IOSA audit from the start and lead to a fast IATA membership for international operation.”
He explained that the unveiling of the airline at the Farnborough International Air show was cognisant of the fact that being the largest congregation of global aviation industry players, the event affords the best opportunity to market the airline to prospective investors and register it in the minds of all stakeholders ahead of its formal launch billed to take place in Abuja before the end of the year.
He assured Nigerians and the international community that government had learnt a lot of lessons from the experience of the defunct Nigeria Airways and was now determined not to repeat the mistakes that led to its demise.
This, he said, informed the decision to take the Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach.