By John Ikani
Emirates Airlines has expressed willingness to assist Nigeria in establishing the national carrier.
President of Emirates Airlines, Tim Clark made the offer on Tuesday during a panel session moderated by CNN’s Richard Quest to discuss the future of Aviation at the Dubai Expo 2020.
Also present at the panel session was Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika who defended Nigeria’s decision to establish a national carrier, assuring that the government will not be part of the running of the airline in order to allow for smooth operations.
In his remarks, Clark acknowledged that Nigeria’s travel industry provides enormous business opportunities, saying Nigerians’ propensity to travel is unrivalled.
According to him: “Nigerians are seeking to travel all over the world. Nigeria is a powerhouse in Africa. We are over interested in flying there because it is a rich nation in terms of demand for services.
“If the minister needs some assistance in how they go about practising a blueprint, we are very happy to help…,” he said.
It is worthwhile to note that the federal government of Nigeria had commenced a process of establishing a national carrier which the minister had assured will commence in April.
Sirika on Tuesday insisted that the central position of Nigeria in the African continent and its huge population was one of the reasons the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration planed to establish the carrier known as Nigeria Air.
He said, “Nigeria is situated at the centre of Africa, equidistant from all locations in Africa. 30.4 million square kilometres, 1.5 billion people and very green land. If Central and Eastern Africa is the belt of the continent, then Nigeria is the buckle.
“200 million people and a rising middle class, the propensity to fly is high. Nigeria is a candidate for a national carrier.”