The Federal Government on Thursday announced that beginning from next week it would start sending out Request for Proposals to investors interested in owning shares in the proposed national carrier.
It also expressed hope that the carrier, Nigeria Air, would be quoted on the stock exchange, adding that Nigerians would be allowed to buy shares in the airline that was being planned to commence operations with three leased aircraft.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirka, disclosed this at a briefing in Abuja, where he explained that 46 per cent stake in the airline was exclusively for Nigerians, five per cent was for government, while 49 per cent was for strategic equity partners, which were assumed to be foreign investors.
Sirika said discussions with prospective investors had been ongoing and that Request for Proposals would be sent out next week.
He said, “We will release what is called Request for Proposals very soon, I believe next week. And this Request for Proposals will describe what and what we are asking for.
“You will now go and send us a document that you are proposing to partner us and this is what you are giving us. Then we will sit down, evaluate, discuss and choose a strategic partner or partners for this airline.
“So Request for Proposals are going out next week and by the grace of God we will continue to pursue that and people will show up.”
Responding to a question on how the 46 per cent stake to be owned by Nigerians would be acquired, Sirika said, “It will be purchased exactly the way you buy shares in every company.
“This is because Nigeria Air is a limited liability company for now, registered under the law of the land and structured in a PPP (public private partnership) manner.
“So you purchase it the same way you purchase shares in any company and later it is our hope that it will be listed and go through IPO (Initial Public Offering) and so on.”
The minister explained that the airline would start operations with three wet-leased aircraft, as it would take about three to five years to take delivery of an aircraft that was ordered for.
“They will start with wet-leased aircraft and that’s how 90 per cent of airlines in the world would have started. So they will start with a wet-lease of three aircraft and then continue to expand, place orders and then get deliveries,” he stated.
Sirika further emphasised that the Federal Government would not have any control in Nigeria Air, rather investors in the carrier would run the business.
He stated that the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facility for the carrier and others would begin in Abuja next year.
Sirika said, “On the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facility, it will be started in Abuja and government has given 12,000 hectares of land in Abuja for the development of Abuja airport.
“In that 12,000 hectares of land, which all of it is a free zone, there will be the MRO facility, a second runway, new terminal building and various businesses. It is going to be a whole airport city.”
He said partners for the MRO had been approached and once approved by the Federal Executive Council, work would start in April 2022, adding that the facility would save Nigeria millions of dollars when operational.
The Transaction Adviser to the government for the national carrier, Capt. Tilmann Gabriel, said efforts were ongoing to get the airlines certified.
“A lot of work has been done and it did not start today, rather it started three years ago. An AOC (Air Operator Certificate) is to be applied for in the next couple of days from the NCAA, which is the regulatory authority,” he stated.