COVID-19: Aviation sector loses N21bn, airlines may not survive post-pandemic – Minister


The Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, said the Nigerian aviation sector has been the worst hit since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Addressing journalists during the daily briefing by the Presidential Task Force on the Control of COVID-19, the minister said the sector has lost approximately N21 billion due to the closure of the country’s airports. 

Based on the trend of events prior to COVID-19, the total loss is about N21 billion approximately plus about N3 billion (trajectionally). It is divided in this form: N7 billion for aviation (what they lose in a month), N10 billion for airlines, N4 billion for ground handling, catering, etc., and then the taxation is N3 billion. 

“Also, since you’re interested in dollars, what we got from the International Airline Transport Association (IATA), they’ve given us economic impact in Africa’s largest aviation markets. That for Nigeria, lost airline revenue is $994 million and in terms of employment at risk, 125,370. Loss of contribution to the GDP of the country is $885 million. Now these are IATA figures.
“And finally to say that, because it is service-nature, that is a service industry, it’s not like Honourable Emeka Majuro’s shop in Aba, which I know he has. If he’s not able to sell his spare parts, they are there. It means it’s only a delayed income so to speak.
“But because the airline is serviced by income it generates, they have  not provided service, they are unable to do so, they have not flown, so have lost it. I cannot regain it. I cannot sell it tomorrow. So, this is the situation of civil aviation. It is really a pathetic one and I can guarantee you that several airlines won’t come out of this unfortunately.” 

“We are in very difficult moments like everyone else. All of this started because someone travelled and unfortunately came back home with it and the consequence is what we’ve been going though. We are the worst hit, than any other sector. Some N17 billion naira monthly is being lost by the airlines, thanks to COVID-19,” he said.

The minister said the aviation sector is highly regulated and has set standards that must be followed at all times, stressing that the sector may not be able to reopen soon.
“We will not be able to open up after closing for several weeks and perhaps for some months. There are safety issues and concerns. Those airplanes have been kept and when we are going to bring them back into service, we will have to ensure that they are airworthy and that they can make those flights safely.
“So also, for the flight crew, they have certain standards they must conform with. They have licencing issues which will fall due for recurrency to be done within this period, so what do u do with them.
“Certainly they won’t just pick up their bags and continue where they left. They must conform to those standards and ensure that they are safe to operate both in terms of their health and their proficiency to be able to conduct a very safe flight,” he said.

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