PLANS have been completed for the launch of a new national carrier that will involve joint ownership between Nigerian shareholders and an international airline with officials now awaiting the approval of President Jonathan.
Sources close to the aviation minister Stella Oduah, said that the foreign carrier, which presently operates flights into Nigeria, would provide technical support including maintenance, infrastructure, pilot training, engineers and other technical personnel and route development.
In the ownership structure of the new airline, the government will have no control in terms of management and equity holding. However, controlling shares would be owned by Nigerians who will become stakeholders through an initial public offering (IPO), while the partner airline would have management control and a 49 per cent stake holding.
Joe Obi, the special to the aviation minister, said: “What is clear now is that government will not play any role in its ownership and control. It will be owned by Nigerians through an IPO, although the template of that is still being worked on.”
Earlier, the federal government had considered adopting one of the domestic airlines as the country’s national carrier but shelved this plan following the various crises that have trailed some of the prominent local carriers. It is expected that the foreign partnership would manage the national carrier more effectively, train Nigerian personnel and contribute to the development and expansion of the curriculum at the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Zaria.
Chris Aligbe, the chief executive of BeluJane Konsult, said that there is a lot to be gained in being designated a national carrier. He added that the airline would be perceived differently and be treated differently because it will now be seen as an airline that represents a country.
Mr Aligbe added: “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.
“However, it also carries a lot of responsibilities. The airline can be called upon at any time by the government to meet national emergencies and carry out other responsibilities as directed by the government.”