July 18, 2018 / 2:21 PM / in 5 months

Nigeria plans re-launch of national airline in December

ABUJA, July 18 (Reuters) - Nigeria plans to re-launch a national airline in December, its junior aviation minister said on Wednesday, as the government seeks to make good on President Muhammadu Buhari's election campaign promise to introduce a new carrier.

Decades of neglect and lack of investment have left Nigeria with low-quality infrastructure seen as a hurdle to prosperity. The government has said that upgrading it will require private investment.

The Nigerian government will not own more than five percent of the new carrier, Nigeria Air, junior minister Hadi Sirika said at the Farnborough air show in England, according to the government's official Twitter account.

"This will be a national carrier that is private sector led and driven," Sirika said, according to the Twitter account.

"It is a business, not a social service. Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it. The investors will have full responsibility for this."

The junior minister said 81 domestic, regional and international routes were planned, and that the government had been in talks with Airbus SE and Boeing Co about Nigeria Air's planes.

The government's Twitter account did not quote Sirika elaborating on who the investors in the remaining 95 percent stake of the airline would be.

Nigeria Airways, the country's original national airline, operated for 45 years until 2003. Air Nigeria, its successor, ran from 2005 to 2012.

Reporting by Paul Carsten, Editing by William Maclean

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