National carrier project remains FG’s top priority – Sirika

Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has said that establishment of National Carrier, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities and implementation of other components of aviation road-map remain top priorities of the Federal Government.

A statement issued on Friday in Abuja by Mr James Odaudu, Deputy Press and Public Affairs in the ministry quoted Sirika as saying these when he received members of Joint Aviation Unions Forum (JAUF) in his office.

JAUF is an umbrella body of all unions in the aviation sector.

According to him, the establishment of national carrier will further position Nigeria to compete with other nations in line with the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) project and develop as a regional hub for air transportation.

He said 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.

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Sirika promised to work with the unions in implementing the roadmap to advance the sector and position it to meet emerging challenges.

The minister gave assurance of continuous improvement of workers’ welfare.

“I promise that there will be good understanding between us to drive activities of our industry towards contributing more to national development.

“I will do everything reasonably possible to make the newly reestablished 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.

“We will continue to hold stakeholders’ meeting with unions, staff, management and players within the industry. We will be committed to better welfare while expecting your full cooperation towards implementation of the aviation roadmap“ he said.

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According to Sirika, the ministry will continue to lay emphasis on the safety and security of air travelers.

He said the recent acquisition of a calibration aircraft for the country and closure of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, for rehabilitation were some of steps being taken to guarantee safety of the nation’s airspace.

Earlier, the JAUF Chairman, Mr Ilitrus Ahmadu thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring continuity in the aviation sector by reappointing Sirika and restoring full-fledged status of the ministry.

Ahmadu, who was also the National President, Air Transport Senior Staff Association of Nigerian (ATSSAN), urged the minister to continue where he stopped, especially in the implementation of a national carrier.

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According to him, establishment of the airline will guarantee more employment for pilots, cabin crew, engineers and other aviation professionals.

He added that the move would also enhance the nation`s international image, being a major player in the aviation world.

“Others are ensuring appointment of qualified people into the boards of aviation agencies in line with their respective Acts, approving of new conditions of service for agencies that are yet to have theirs.

“Also, the better funding for capacity building and the revival of the annual aviation week, “ he said.

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