The Federal Government has concluded plans to appoint a technical adviser for the proposed national carrier latest by Wednesday next week.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Wednesday.
Sirika was joined at the briefing by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; and Minister of State for Education, Anthony Anwuka.
Sirika said once the issue of the national carrier was resolved, Nigerians would no longer be at the mercy of foreign airlines.
“The most important incentive is that between now and Wednesday, we will appoint a transaction adviser for the national carrier. Once that is in place, Nigerians will have options; there will be competition and good aircraft, and this will bring the price (airfares) down,” he said.
The minister stated that the government had also been talking to some foreign airlines flying into Nigeria with undesirable aircraft.
He, however, admitted that the airlines were being constrained by some factors, including inadequate infrastructure at the nation’s airports.
Sirika said, “As regards carriers like Egypt Air, British Airways and Turkish Airlines, which fly in here with undesirable aircraft, while they put on other routes better aircraft despite the fact that the Nigerian routes pay them more, we have been talking to them seriously and ensuring that they change their fleets.
“However, some of them are constrained by some of the infrastructure we have in place; for example, Emirates. Emirates will love to bring the kind of aircraft they fly around the world but the apron in Abuja is not supporting that service.
“That is why the aircraft they take to Lagos is different from the one they take to Abuja. That inadequacy is also being addressed and once that is done, we will have befitting aircraft coming. This has always been a challenge.”
The minister also said the government was addressing the issue of foreign airlines threatening to dump the Nigerian routes.
The minister said the FEC also approved the revised total estimate cost of finishing both the domestic and international wings of the Port Harcourt Airport.
He said the project was captured in the 2016 and 2017 budget.
Sirika said the cost of the rehabilitation of the international wing was reviewed upward from N777.7m to N1.6bn, while that of the second phase of the terminal building was increased from N746.8m to N1.1bn.