NIGERIA will launch its planned national carrier Nigeria Air during the third quarter of this year with restricted domestic operations within the country at the initial stage according to aviation minister Senator Hadi Sirika.
In July 2018, Nigerian announced ambitious plans to launch Nigeria Air, with plans that it will fly to 80 different destination and will have a fleet of 30 aircraft. Announced at the Farnborough Air Show in Kent by Senator Sirika, Nigeria Air was due to begin operations in 2018 but it had to be shelved because there were no provisions for its launch in the budget.
Since then, the plan has been put on ice but yesterday, Senator Sirika revealed that the launch of the airline is back on track. Briefing journalists at State House after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting, Senator Sirika, said the airline would take-off with restricted operations during the third quarter of 2020.
In addition, Senator Sirika also disclosed that the difficulties in acquiring quarry dust for the rehabilitation of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, were the major threat to its speedy completion. However, he said that despite the challenge, he remained hopeful that the project would be delivered before Easter as scheduled.
He described quarry dust as a more durable raw material than ordinary sand in the construction of runways, saying the intention is to build the most durable runway in the country at the airport. Senator Sirika said the contractors needed nothing less than 2,000 tonnes of quarry dust daily for the construction and had currently run out of the commodity in Enugu.
According to him, the contractors have had to resort to sourcing the material from neighbouring states where he said they could only get as little as 900 tonnes per day. He, however, emphasised that the completion date had not been shifted.
Senator Sirika added: “Now, we have exhausted all the quarries in and around Enugu, we are getting about sometimes 900 tonnes. We are going into the neighbouring states to be scouting for this quarry dust.
“I am confident that we will continue to get the quarry dust even if it means paying extra for transportation. If we are getting that quarry dust, we will deliver this project before Easter 2020 and by God’s grace, we will continue and get this quarry dust.”