Nigeria Air Project Was Fraudulent, Remains Suspended — Keyamo

27th May 2024

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has described the controversial Nigeria Air unveiled by the Buhari-led administration as a fraud, saying that it remained suspended.

Giving details about that project, he noted that the ‘national carrier’ that was supposed to be an indigenous project and one that was supposed to spark hope for Nigerians, was flawed with a lot of secrecy and fraudulent activities.

Keyamo made the declaration on Nigeria Air while fielding questions from journalists during the second day of the Ministerial Sectoral update on Monday, May 27, in Abuja.

Keyamo declared that the Nigeria Air remained suspended, adding that it was anti-Nigeria.

His words: “It was never Air Nigeria. It was Ethiopian trying to flag our flag and not Air Nigeria. That is the truth; it was not Nigeria.

“It only printed Air Nigeria. It was an Ethiopian airline trying to fly our flag. If it is so, why not allow our local people to fly our flag? Why bring a foreigner to fly our flag?

“So nobody should deceive you that it is Air Nigeria. Air Nigeria must be indigenous, wholly Nigeria or must be for the full benefit of Nigerians. Not that 60 percent of the profit is given to another country.

“How does that benefit us? It remains suspended. It remains so,” he said.

Speaking further on some of the steps taken so far to boost economic development in the aviation sector, Keyamo highlighted the commencement of cargo flights.

He noted that it would enable Nigeria to tap into the $6 trillion global cargo market.

“We have agreed that we’re going to resume cargo flights between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

“This has been suspended for a long time but now cargo flights are back. Guess what? Air cargo trade accounts for 35 percent of the world trade deficit.

“And air cargo trade, according to the International Air Transport Association, IATA, attracts about $6 trillion annually.

“And we’re missing you know. Within that sector, we were missing in many routes around the world and we have achieved that,” he said.

The minister added that the issues surrounding the second runway at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport were addressed within just two weeks of his appointment.

Keyamo promised enhanced airport capacity and operational efficiency.

Speaking further on his achievements, Keyamo confirmed that all trapped funds of foreign airlines had been cleared.

“We all know this issue was the issue of trapped funds of the international airlines. Their funds were trapped here because of a lack of liquidity on the part of Nigeria because of so many subsidies we pay with our foreign earnings.

“Also, foreign airlines were threatening to stop operating in Nigeria. Now, I must give credit to all those in the financial sector for this. We had to work closely with the CBN and the Minister of Finance.

“We had to work closely with all of the ministers in the financial sector. And by our persistence, we are happy to announce that we have cleared all the trapped funds”, he said.

The minister added that under the current administration with his leadership as Aviation and Aerospace Development minister, efforts had been geared towards prioritising and assisting local airlines.

He disclosed that the move was to help the country take full advantage of its reciprocal right under the BASA agreement with various countries.

Keyamo said that the open sky operation with the United States had begun operation, explaining that Nigeria would begin to enjoy unrestricted flights to the US, deployment of any kind of aircraft on those routes, and multiple entry points.