National carrier, aircraft maintenance remain priority, says FG

The establishment of a national carrier, as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities for aircraft and the implementation of other components of the aviation roadmap remain top priorities of the Federal Government, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said.

Sirika said this at a meeting with members of the Joint Aviation Unions Forum, an umbrella body of all unions in the aviation sector, according to a statement issued by the Director, Press and Public Affairs,Federal Ministry of Aviation,James Odaudu, in Abuja on Friday.

The minister stated that the establishment of a national carrier would further position Nigeria to compete with other nations in line with the Single African Air Transport Market project and develop as a regional hub for air transportation.

He said the establishment of MROs would save the country a lot of foreign exchange that would otherwise be spent by airline operators sending their aircraft abroad for checks.

Sirika promised to work with the unions in implementing the road map, which he said would go a long way to advance the sector and position it to meet emerging challenges.

He said, “I promise that there will be good understanding between us to drive the activities of our industry towards contributing more to national development. I will do everything reasonably possible to make the newly re-established ministry live up to the expectations of all stakeholders in the sector.

“This task, I think, is for you as well; not for me alone. It is for all of us. We will continue to hold stakeholders’ meetings with the unions, staff, the management and players within the industry.

“We will be committed to better welfare while expecting your full cooperation towards the implementation of the aviation roadmap which was developed during our first tenure.”

The minister said the ministry would continue to lay emphasis on the safety and security of air travellers, adding that the recent acquisition of a calibration aircraft for the country and the closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu for rehabilitation were some of the steps being taken to guarantee the safety of the nation’s airspace.

The Chairman of the forum and National President of Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Ilitrus Ahmadu, charged the minister to work hard in implementing the aviation road map, one of which major aspects was the establishment of a national carrier.

According to him, the establishment of the airline would not only guarantee more employment for pilots, cabin crew, engineers and other aviation professionals,but would also enhance the nation’s international image.

Ilitrus outlined other areas which required the minister’s attention to include ensuring the appointment of qualified people into the boards of aviation agencies in line with their respective Acts, approval of new conditions of service for agencies that are yet to have theirs, better funding for capacity building and the revival of the annual Aviation Week.

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