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No domestic airline will become Nigeria’s national carrier, says Keyamo

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo (SAN), says none of the domestic airlines will be converted to a national carrier.

He said that nominating one local airline to be the national carrier will be unfair to all other local airlines operating in the country.

Keyamo who spoke on Wednesday during a television programme, said that his ministry is already working on establishing what he referred to as “a proper national carrier”.

“I will push for one (national carrier) and I am working on one. Let me say this publicly now, no local airline will be a national carrier, a flag carrier. So, whoever thinks I am working to promote one to be a flag carrier, I am saying it as a matter of policy, it will be unfair to all the local operators,” Keyamo said.

“No local airline will be designated as a national carrier, I will not do it. We will establish a proper national carrier and people are talking to us, the Arabs are talking to us, the Chinese are talking to us, the Americans are talking to us on this already.”

During the last administration, Keyamo’s predecessor, Hadi Sirika, had launched Nigeria Air as a national carrier and the deal was shrouded in controversy.

The dust about the Nigeria Air is yet to settle with Keyamo insisting that the deal was not in the interest of the nation.

The minister said there are other deals on the table and wondered why the one involving the Ethiopian Airline was chosen by the former minister.

He said, “There were better deals on the table, why did we settle for this or why are we trying to settle for this? We have better deals on the table.

“It was not a deal that was good for Nigeria. The whole composition and the totality of that deal was merely Ethiopian Air flying a Nigerian flag; it was not a national carrier.

“There is a national carrier and a flag carrier. So, why we were thinking a national carrier was coming, it was not a national carrier, it was a foreign airline trying to fly Nigerian flag,” Keyamo said.

The minister also said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is investigating the controversial Nigeria Air deal.

“The EFCC is investigating that deal,” the Minister said, adding that “there is a criminal investigation going on. I have called for the report”.

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