June 17, 2024

The minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, on Monday, described the controversial Nigeria Air national carrier unveiled by the immediate-past Muhammadu Buhari-led administration as a fraud, stating that it remains suspended indefinitely.

Keyamo disclosed this while fielding questions from journalists during the second day of the Ministerial Sectoral Update, held in  Abuja, to mark President Bola Tinubu’s one year in office.

Keyamo declared that the Nigeria Air project remained suspended, adding that it was anti-Nigeria.

Giving details about that project, he noted that the ‘national carrier’ that was supposed to be an indigenous project and one that was supposed to spark hope for Nigerians, was flawed with a lot of secrecy and fraudulent activities.

“It was never Air Nigeria, it was Ethiopian trying to fly our flag. It was not Air Nigeria. That is the truth. It was not Nigeria. It only printed Air Nigeria. It was an Ethiopian airline trying to fly our flag. If it is so, why not allow our local people to fly our flag. Why bring a foreigner to fly our flag?

“So nobody should deceive you that Air Nigeria, Air Nigeria must be indigenous, must be wholly Nigeria or must be for the full benefit of Nigerians, not that 60 per cent of the profit is given to another country. How does that benefit us? It remains suspended. It remains so,” he said.

Speaking further on some of the steps so far taken to boost economic development in the aviation sector, Keyamo highlighted the commencement of cargo flights, noting that it will enable Nigeria to tap into the $6 trillion global cargo market.

“We have agreed that we’re going to resume cargo flights between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. This has been suspended for a long time but now cargo flights are back. Guess what? Air cargo trade accounts for 35 per cent of the world trade deficit and air cargo trade according to the International Air Transport Association, IATA attracts about $6 trillion annually and we’re missing you know, within that sector we were missing in many routes around the world and we have achieved that,” he said.

He added that the issues surrounding the second runway at  Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport were addressed within just two weeks of his appointment as Minister, promising enhanced airport capacity and operational efficiency.

Speaking further on his achievements, Keyamo confirmed that all trapped funds of foreign airlines have been cleared.

“We all know this issue was the issue of trapped funds of the international airlines. Their finds were trapped here because of lack of liquidity on the part of Nigeria because of so many subsidies we pay with our foreign earnings. Also, foreign airlines were threatening to stop operating in Nigeria. Now, I must give credit to all those in the financial sector for this. We had to work closely with the CBN we have to work closely with the Minister of Finance,

“We had to work closely with all of the ministers in the financial sector and by our persistence we are happy to announce that we have cleared all the trapped funds,” he stated.

He added that the current administration under his leadership as Aviation and Aerospace Development Minister have made efforts towards prioritising and assisting local airlines.

He disclosed that the move was to help the country take full advantage of its reciprocal right under the BASA agreement with various countries.

He added that the open sky operation with the United States have began operation, explaining that Nigeria would begin to enjoy unrestricted number of flights to the US, deployment of any kind of aircraft on those routes, and multiple entry points.

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