President of Emirates Airlines, Tim Clark, has expressed the desire of his airline, Emirates, to assist Nigeria with its proposed national carrier, stressing that there is an enormous business case for the carrier. He said the nation has the wherewithal to clearly understand what they are doing, stressing that they are doing it and probably in the next year they will have a national airline flying to Dubai and many other destinations. Clark noted that he would be interested to see the proposed airline operate in Dubai. Speaking at the just-concluded discussion on the future of global aviation at the on-going World Government Summit (WDS) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Clark said: “Nigeria is a powerhouse of Africa. We are over interested in flying there because it is a rich nation in terms of demand for services. It is a very rich. If the minister needs some assistance in how they go about practicing a blueprint for the proposed national carrier…
“We are very happy to help, but I would say not to be too disingenuous. They got the wherewithal they clearly understand what they are doing and they are doing it and probably in the next year they will a very good carrier flying and please come to Dubai because there is so much demand.” Meanwhile, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has again reiterated government’s commitment to the private-sector aviation industry, the reason the country needs a national airline. Moderator for the session, Cable News Network (CNN)’s Richard Quest, asked Sirika why the country needs a national airline; the minister responded that Nigeria is situated at the centre of Africa, equidistant from all locations in Africa. 30.4 million square kilometres miles, 1.5 billion people, very green land, the reason it needs an airline.
He explained that if Central and Eastern Africa is the belt of the continent, then Nigeria is the buckle, stressing that with 200 million people and the rising middle class, the propensity to fly is high. Nigeria is a candidate for national carrier.” On how the country handled the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister said: “We closed the country immediately at that time. And that is why in Nigeria, up till today, there was only 3500 death recorded from COVID-19, just about 250,000 infected and 245,000 were discharged from the hospital. Richard asked the minister if he believe in the statistics on pandemics and he responded that he does.
Sirika said: “Yes, I believe. Otherwise, people would have been going to the grave unexplained. It worked very well, then, gradually things began to ease out and business began. Don’t forget, before COVID-19, Nigerian aviation became the fastest growing sector of the economy.” Quest interjected, asking if the airline is going to be private. The minister answered: “Private. Yes. Government would have five per cent stake. Five per cent with no government control, no membership government onboard. “Whatever we say we will do as a government since 2015, it has happened, that is why Tim Clark’s Emirate, Qatar Airways and all of them are looking to go into Nigeria in multiple frequencies and multiple landing points because Nigeria is the right place for the airline business.