NIGERIA AIR: We Were Never Interested, Says Qatar Airways
It is either the Nigerian government lied, or it was simply naïve.
The Nigeria Air project is almost a forgotten story, but the story behind its sudden demise is yet to die completely.
At the peak of the project, the government had touted key interested investors to include Ethiopian Airways, Qatar airways and others.
But it does appear that wasn’t entirely true as Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive officer of Qatar Airways, has come out to say that his company was not looking to be a core investor in the national carrier project.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing 18th Doha Forum in Doha, Qatar, Al Baker said the Nigerian government only approached them for help on how to go about floating a national carrier.
While refuting rumours that the national carrier project was suspended for lack of investors, Hadi Sirika, minister of state for aviation had listed Qatar Airways and Ethiopian Airways as some of the potential investors of the national carrier.
“We never applied to serve as core investor in the proposed Nigerian national carrier. The government of Nigeria only approached us on how to go about setting up the carrier.
“And we advised that Nigeria needs massive investments to float a national carrier,” Vanguard quoted Al Baker to have said on Sunday.
“Nigeria, being the largest country in Africa, cannot afford not to have a national carrier that competes, first in Africa, and then the global stage. Again, Nigeria must also have the airport that can accommodate modern aircraft that can drive competition.”
He said his company also advised Nigeria on the type of aircraft to acquire for profitability and that Qatar Airways would rather encourage the Nigerian government to designate some airlines to Doha rather than pay royalties; pending the floating of the new national carrier.
Al Baker also said Qatar Airways will not fly into Abuja or other routes in Nigeria so as not to kill the domestic airlines in the country.
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