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Despite suspension, FG pegs N1bn for national carrier

The Federal Government is to spend N1 billion on working capital for the yet to be established national carrier, according to the details of the…

The Federal Government is to spend N1 billion on working capital for the yet to be established national carrier, according to the details of the 2021 appropriation bill.

Since 2019, budgetary provision has been made for the national carrier project to the tune of N12.6bn.

There has been uncertainty over the takeoff of the national carrier, Nigeria Air, which was unveiled in July 2018 and suspended indefinitely in September of the same year.

The airline was scheduled to commence operations on December 19, 2018.

The proposed national carrier targeted 81 routes, comprising 40 domestic, regional and sub-regional and 41 international routes.

Previous budget

In 2019, the government budgeted N8bn for working capital despite the suspension of the Nigeria Air project as well as another N500m for transaction advisers.

In 2020, N4.6bn was provided in the budget for working capital while in the 2021 Appropriation Bill presented last week by President Muhammadu Buhari, another N1bn was provided as working capital for the national carrier. It was listed under ongoing projects’ list of the Federal Ministry of Aviation.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Aviation, Mr. James Odaudu is yet to respond to our correspondent’s enquiry when contacted to give clarification on what the working capital is.

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had stated in August that the national carrier project is still on course. He stated that the planned carrier would be all-inclusive, adding, “there is no going back on the national carrier. We don’t think one airline is enough for 200 million people.”

But two years after the suspension of Nigeria Air indefinitely, the revival of the project is still in limbo.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Aviation, Mr. James Odaudu, however said the national carrier project is not suspended.

“It is in fact one of the post COVID-19 priority projects of the Federal Government. Very soon it will pick up from where it stopped,” he said, adding that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) had recently reissued a Certificate of Compliance for the project.

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