Nigeria is set to launch a new national carrier, the Supervising Minister of Aviation, Dr Samuel Ortom, said on Friday.
According to Ortom, necessary contacts and plans had been concluded to ensure the quick realisation of the goal.
The minister, who spoke during ceremonies to mark Kenya Airways inaugural flight operation to Abuja, said the commencement of Kenya Airways direct flight operations to Abuja was a landmark achievement for the airline in its network expansion programme and the effort of the ministry for providing the travelling public more travel options.
Ortom said that the operations of Kenya Airways and other international airlines into Nigeria’s major airports justified the huge financial commitments made in remodeling terminals and construction of state of the art facilities across the country.
He said that the initiatives were designed to improve safety, security and ease air transport services in accordance with government transformation agenda.
Said the minister: “Very soon, the national carrier will start operations. We are making necessary contacts and putting everything together to ensure that we have a national carrier of our own.
“We know that this is a transformation government; for the first time we are witnessing transformation in all sectors of the economy; with this desire, very soon we will launch our own carrier,’’ Ortom said.
He said that Nigeria and Kenya had developed good economic, social and political relations leading to the signing of so many bilateral agreements between the two countries.
He said one of such agreements was in the aviation sub-sector, where Bilateral Air Services Agreements were made, adding, “I believe that this will go a long way in promoting trade, investment and other commercial activities that will further boost the economies of the two countries.”
The Kenya Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Mr Michael Kamau, said that Kenya’s government was committed to boosting relations with Nigeria.
Kamau said that the government of Kenya in conjunction with Kenya Airways was keen to promote tourism opportunities between the two countries.
Kamau stated: “We are all excited that Kenya Airways, our national carrier, has today made its maiden direct flight to the capital city of Nigeria as we seek to enhance our relations further.
“Kenya’s government has firmly undertaken to ensure that we grow the volume of trade between our two countries as a measure to increase intra-African trade,’’ Kamau said.
He said that it was unfortunate that intra-Africa trade accounted for less than 12 per cent of overall trade volumes, while trade with Europe and America took the lion’s share of Africa’s trade opportunities.
Kamau said that in spite of Africa’s massive potential and diversity, it accounted for less than two per cent of global airline passenger traffic and about one per cent of global airlines cargo.
According to him, such figures clearly justify the need to join hands as African states to facilitate a pan-African renaissance through the breaking of air transport barriers.
His words: “We acknowledge that the lack of convenient air transport links have been one of the key trade barriers and one that needed to be immediately addressed on a bilateral level.
“For this reason, Kenya Airways has also committed to expand its services offering beyond passenger services to freighter services in coming months.
“This commitment which is subject to normal commercial considerations is one of the key pillars to facilitating trade through the fast growing Nairobi Air transport hub,” he stated.