The Air Peace chairman also declared that airlines were not looking for free monies and should not be reminded about previous intervention funds which he said never got to airlines but was utilized by banks to offset debts.
Recall, last Saturday the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika during a press conference had remarked that government would soon make an announcement of the intervention funds in conjunction with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Finance to be delivered to the entire aviation industry.
Onyema, in his own argument, is canvassing a soft loan with affordable interest rate to get directly to the airlines so they can operate at near normal and retain as well as create jobs. Read also: Onyema canvasses workforce-specific intervention as NCAA tinkers reopening domestic operations with 5 airports first
He said,” Palliatives, bailouts or intervention funds is very necessary. All over the world government is giving palliatives or bailouts to their airlines. Even the strongest airlines ask for this assistance. To us at Air Peace, what bothers us more is the retention of our workforce. I don’t want to use this as an opportunity to buy new aircraft neither am I looking for money to float a new airline, what should be paramount to everybody now is job retention.”
“If we don’t eat, we don’t have a place to go at the end of the day, the polity becomes heated. Everything we do in the country from hence should be geared towards job retention and job creation. COVIS-19 has caused immense loss of jobs worldwide; w must begin to think of ways to curb the losses in Nigeria.”
Apart from job retention he also spoke about the impact of the pandemic on the cost of things like insurance premiums and maintenance which are major cost hurdles that airlines have to cross to fly safe asking for assistance on these fronts.
“I am only interested in anything that will ensure people don’t lose their jobs. Also insurance and maintenance, they have all gone up this year. The airlines will need some support towards that. I am not asking and I don’t think anybody is asking for free money. Let it be a soft loan at an affordable interest rate that is all we are asking for.” Read also: COVID-19: Olowo says N2tr economic injection not enough for passenger airlines alone
On the previous intervention fund to the airlines that seems to be a reference point for not assisting them in this dire crisis period, Onyema said although Air Peace was not born then, it was unfair to blame the airlines as monies never got to them directly or even get to them at all.
“People should stop reminding us about those they gave intervention funds in the past because we discovered that those funds did not get to the airlines but to the banks who decided to take retain what they were owed and nothing was left for the airlines to operate with.”
“We were not born then and it’s not like I am defending our colleagues but the truth must be said. Then it was not given to the airline directly.
“This time around, it should be given to the airlines directly one way or another but the banks must be involved so there would be checks and control,” the Air Peace boss said.
Minister of Aviation in his submission on Saturday also hinted that the palliatives to be announced this week will go round the entire civil aviation but may not be necessarily be cash like people expect.