FG shifts concession of four international airports to Q2

• To issue Requests-for-Proposal on national carrier establishment Monday

The Federal Government has moved the target date for the concession of Nigeria’s four major international airports from the first quarter of this year to the second quarter.

It also announced that the government would issue Requests-for-Prosposal for the establishment of the long-awaited national carrier, Nigeria Air, by next week Monday.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this during a chat with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, stated that transaction advisers for the concession of the airports were currently analysing the proposals of bidders.

He explained that successful bidders would be announced soon, adding that the entire process should be completed in second quarter of this year.

Sirika said, “The transaction advisers for the concession have finished the Outline Business Case and had got the Request-for-Qualification. We’ve pre-qualified the people and they’ve been issued Request-for-Proposal.

“They’ve turned the proposals in and we are analysing them to announce the successful bidders and this will be soon. Our timetable is for the first quarter of this year.

“Well, I can see that it is still happening, let’s be very ambitious, but certainly it will end in second quarter and all the (identified) airports will be concessioned.”

In October 2021, the Federal Government announced that it would send requests for proposals to qualified bidders for the concession of the four airports after assessing the requests for qualification.

It had also stated the preceding stage – request for qualifications phase of the Nigeria Airport Concessions Programme – came to a close at 3:00pm on October 25, 2021.

The October 25, 2021 deadline was announced by the Federal Ministry of Aviation on September 13, 2021, after deliberations with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission and the transaction advisers, as the committee allowed for a four-week extension, in response to requests from would-be bidders.

The government has been making efforts towards the concession of the four major airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano, and has been holding meetings with labour unions on the matter.

Meanwhile, Sirika stated that about 12 new airports were created in Nigeria since 2015 when the current administration took over.

He said, “There are more airports today than when we came in 2015. There’s Anambra and Lafia airports; there is Ekiti airport, going on; Makurdi airport, going on; Yobe airport, Ebonyi airport and many other airports.

“We have about 12 new airports added since we came and this is growth. And we have the same in other aspects of the sectors, as more runways are being added, more capacities for the airports are being delivered.

The minister noted that the government was diligently implementing the key components of the aviation sector roadmap, adding that “we are very sure that before the end of the term of Mr. President, these things will be achieved and realised.”

On the national carrier, the minister said the government would begin the issuing of requests for proposal to intending investors for the establishment of the airline on March 8, 2022.

He said, “The transaction adviser is going to request for proposal next week Monday. Government will own five per cent, Nigerians will own 46 per cent and the international partners airlines will take 49 per cent shares.

“We will give them some weeks to respond to the request, then we will announce the winning bidder.

“However, in the interim, because government intends to own only five per cent of the airline shares, we are going to go ahead with the AOC (Air Operator Certificate) which has commenced since.”

Sirika added, “I believe that by April, we should be able to have our AOC ready, which means, we are ready to start. And once the AOC is in our hands, the offices are secured, the interim board is being constituted, and when they finish signing the contract, we will announce who they are.

“Currently, they are called interim because they will hold the airline on an interim bases up to the time the investors will come and take over.”

Sirika said the interim board members “are noble people, some are Nigerians, some are not. I think they are about nine of them to run the airline and they will begin operations between now and July.”

He said that within the period, Nigeria Air would run Lagos and Abuja, “and as the situation demands, they may extend to Port Harcourt and other parts of the country.”

Article first published on the Punch Website

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