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Nigeria rejects local airlines as national carrier, pursues global partnerships, says Keyamo

Festus Keyamo Declares Policy Shift Away from Designating Local Airlines as Flag Carriers, Advocates for Proper National Carrier Establishment

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Festus Keyamo, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, unequivocally stated that no local airline would be designated as the country’s national carrier, asserting that such a move would unfairly advantage one operator over others. In an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today, Keyamo outlined his vision for establishing a robust national carrier while fostering strategic partnerships with global stakeholders.

Emphasizing his commitment to a singular national carrier, Keyamo underscored the need for a distinct entity separate from existing local airlines. He adamantly rejected the notion of promoting any domestic airline to the status of a flag carrier, citing concerns of preferential treatment and market distortion within the aviation industry.

“I will push for one national carrier, and I am working on one,” Keyamo affirmed, signaling a departure from previous initiatives that attempted to designate local airlines as Nigeria’s flag carrier. He highlighted ongoing discussions with international partners from diverse regions, including the Arab world, China, and the United States, underscoring Nigeria’s global engagement in shaping its aviation landscape.

Questioning the rationale behind previous decisions, Keyamo criticized past efforts to establish Nigeria Air during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari. He described the initiative as contentious, lacking clarity on its operational framework and broader strategic objectives.

“A flag carrier is different from a national carrier,” Keyamo clarified, disentangling the distinctions between the two concepts while addressing lingering controversies surrounding Nigeria Air. He reiterated concerns about the transparency and viability of the project, highlighting an ongoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into the controversial deal.

The House of Representatives, prompted by concerns over the project’s transparency and accountability, summoned former Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika for questioning. The motion, spearheaded by Tarkighir Dickson, reflects broader legislative scrutiny of public spending and government initiatives.

As Nigeria navigates complexities in its aviation sector, Keyamo’s policy stance signals a pivotal shift in national carrier development, prioritizing transparency, efficiency, and international collaboration in shaping the country’s aviation ambitions. Amid ongoing scrutiny and legislative oversight, the quest for a viable national carrier remains a focal point in Nigeria’s aviation trajectory.

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