25 May 2018

Nigeria: Stakeholders Canvass 40% Public Equity in New National Carrier

Stakeholders in the air travel sector have advised the Federal Government (FG) to ensure that the Nigerian public own between 25 to 40 per cent equity of the new national carrier.

A fairly balanced distribution of shares and ownership between Nigerians and foreign investors, they said, will make the airlines a true national carrier.

The advice was on the heels of a recent disclosure of December 24, 2018, as the takeoff date of the proposed national carrier, to replace the defunct Nigerian Airways .

Secretary General of the Aviation Safety Round-table Initiative (ASTRI), a think-tank group of the industry, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said the venture presents the country another opportunity to float a true national carrier and gradually reclaim its rightful place in global aviation.

In this direction, Ojikutu said a credible foreign technical investors and partners whose shares are not more than 40 per cent are important. Also, there must be credible Nigerian investors with 25 per cent shares. In addition, the Nigerian public owning 25 per cent shares, through the capital market, while the FG and States governments should own the remaining 10 per cent shares.

"This shareholding formula will make the airlines national carriers. The FG and States may not necessarily have holdings in flag carriers but the Nigerian public must have minimum of 40 per cent shares, if there would be no foreign technical investors and partners," he said.

Ojikutu believed that a national or flag carriers owned by Nigerians and not controlled by government will end the travails of the private airlines on the international routes and reduce the incursions of foreign airlines into the domestic routes.

President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bernard Bankole, said that a true national carrier is a welcome development for the downstream sector of the aviation sector.

Bankole, however, urged the FG to immediately resolve the outstanding severance and pension benefits of about 6000 ex-Nigeria Airways workers, to avert fresh litigations.

He emphasized that national carrier is a global norm in effective Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) and national pride.

Bankole added that almost all foreign carriers coming into Nigeria are national carriers, owned by governments but managed by private hands.

"It is almost impossible for the flag carriers to compete in the current circumstance. Our naira is weaker against the dollar. More so, there is little or no support from the government. In other words, they have no comparative advantage. But that would not have been the story if we have a national carrier," Bankole said.


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