Following the controversy trailing the launch of the national carrier, Nigeria Airways, aviation stakeholder and Managing Director of Med-View Airlines PLC, Alhaji Muneer Bankole yesterday said the government has no business in running a national carrier.
Bankole in a chat with Daily Trust said the experience with the Nigeria Airways had shown that the government cannot successfully run an airline.
Daily Trust reports that the launch of Nigeria Air in the twilight of the immediate past administration has been generating controversy after the discovery that the aircraft that landed on May 26 belonged to Ethiopian Airlines.
But Bankole said, “It is not the duty of the government to establish an airline. This is no longer feasible anywhere in the world.
“I spent close to three decades with Nigeria Airways. The experience of Nigeria Airways is a testimony of my belief and assertion that the government cannot successfully run an airline.
“I have said it as far back as January 20, 2016 in an interview with Daily Trust when the former President, General Muhammadu Buhari just took over. What I said at that time was that the government should not have any major stake in it. Government’s involvement should not be more than 10 per cent and that they can partner with aircraft manufacturers so that newer aircraft should be given on a barter basis. Nigeria should not go into third party negotiations.
“And at that time, the president made a visit to Qatar where there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Qatar Airways. Go and find out what has happened to that MoU. The then ministers of aviation and finance were there.
“What the government needs to do is to make the atmosphere conducive for all the various flag carriers we have.”
Bankole said Med-View Airline remains a reference point in what the private sector can achieve if given the right support and encouragement.
He added: “Med-View, being one of the designated carriers to various countries including London, Dubai, Jeddah and virtually all the West Coast countries and our performances speak volume. Go and ask in Gatwick-London, people are still asking when are we resuming our operation? I had a meeting with the Business Development Manager and he was demanding when we are coming back.
“Our track record in Hajj operations also speaks volume. From 2006 when the National Hajj Commission first came on board, we have been there.
“Our appeal for the government is to go to the archive and look at our suggestions on how a national carrier can succeed. Lufthansa came, Qatar Airways. Ethiopia did not even sign any agreement on the national carrier.
“All stakeholders should rub their minds together and come up with pragmatic solutions to have a befitting carrier that would be in the interest of our country. Every hand must be on deck to have a very big national carrier.”