A former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, has expressed support for the establishment of a national carrier, Nigeria Air, saying the airline would reduce capital flight.
In 2017, foreign airlines repatriated about $2.5 billion and Nigeria lost about $4 billion on unserviced bilateral air service agreement.
Kalu said the establishment of a national carrier would go a long way in stemming the huge capital flight associated with the patronage of foreign airlines by Nigerians.
“Those criticising Nigeria Air never knew that it is only through the government that you can build a strong economy. It is only when government invests in the economy, managed by private sector that we can move forward,” he said.
The former governor who spoke to journalists at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, also lauded the model, Public Private Partnership (PPP) adopted by the federal government, saying the private sector would run the airline successfully because of their equity in the start-up airline.
Kalu who was the Chairman of Slok Air, commended President Muhammadu Buhari led-government for finally giving Nigerians a national airline, just as he requested that a similar PPP model be adopted in the establishment of viable rail and water transportation projects for Nigerians.
“The federal government should just own five per cent in the national airline. We must praise the Minister of State for Aviation and the people who put the structure that is making waves today. Ethiopian Airlines is still owned by the government. I maintain all my aircraft with them, so; l know what they are capable of doing. Government should not stop at that, they should allow the private sector initiative to go into the new shipping line and others,” Kalu added.
The Minister of State of Aviation, Hadi Sirika at the unveiling of the name and logo of the airline at the Farnborough Airshow in London in the presence of prospective investors, airline manufacturers and strategic partners, had said the federal government’s equity in the airline would not be more than five per cent.
He said the need to establish the national carrier was in fulfillment of the promise made by President Buhari to Nigerians in 2015 to give the country a befitting national airline.