AIRLINE Operators of Nigeria yesterday urged the Federal Government to put measures in place and extend critical palliative as well as provide a bailout to indigenous airline operators in order to reduce the burden of colossal loses they have suffered and continue to suffer from the impact of the COVID-19 virus on air travel.

According to the AON, the impact even on the domestic scene is real as traffic has dropped while over head remains the same.

Chairman of the AON, Capt. Nogie Meggison, made this known after a meeting held between the managements of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigeria’s Representative to ICAO, members of Port Health and Chief Executives of Airlines and Helicopter operators to develop and implement measures to prevent the influx of the virus into the country as well as curb its spread.

He called on the Ministry of Aviation to take a cue from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by directing the various agencies under its supervision to immediately ensure that Nigerian airline operators do not suffer from the impact of the virus on air travel.

“Just yesterday, March 16, 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a statement acknowledging the adverse impact of the virus on the global and Nigerian economies and announced a moratorium of one year on all principal repayments of intervention loans effective March 1, 2020; reduced interest rates from 9 to 5 percent per annum for one year; and created a N50 billion targeted credit facility to cushion the impact of the virus on businesses,” Capt. Meggison declared.

“Similarly therefore, we use this medium to call on the Aviation Agencies through the Federal Ministry of Aviation to follow the same path by taking action to support Domestic Airlines that are the drivers of our national economy.

“Nigerian airlines are suffering heavily from the impact of the Corona Virus issue as the passenger numbers have dropped drastically and our overheads remain the same on many fronts and even increasing significantly on other fronts. Like we all know Nigerian airlines trade in Naira but we do our business in Dollars and the Naira has come under pressure since the Corona Virus pandemic.

He called on the agencies to reduce the over 32 multiple charges, while government should also bear 100% cost of disinfecting all aircraft and get a bailout

The Agencies should therefore help the airlines by immediately streamlining the over 32 multiple charges given to airlines which are mostly double billing. Government should also bear 100% cost of disinfecting all aircraft for this period and provide thermal scanners and hand sanitizers as well as mobilize more manpower and training of Port Health Personnel at our local airports to encourage more people to travel.

“What we are asking for is not unprecedented. For instance, in the United Stated of America, airlines are seeking a $50 billion bailout. As part of its response, an Emergency Stimulus Package was passed by the US Senate and House and they reduced interest rates to 0.25%. Also, the bill granted their airlines tax credit for their losses during the Pandemic.

Our government can do the same therefore by granting the above stated reliefs to Nigerian airlines as a way of assisting them during this very difficult time to recover from their losses.




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