CHIEF Executive Officer of Insel Networks Limited, Mrs Victoria Jumoke Adegbe has prescribed conversion of passenger aircraft for cargo operations as part of recovery plans for indigenous carriers to navigate their way out of COVID -19.
The licensed Flight Dispatcher and Ground Instructor said such aircraft could optimize opportunities available for freight of medical supplies, agricultural supplies and other essential cargo.
Mrs. Adegbe said government should consider direct financial support to indigenous carriers to compensate for reduced revenues and liquidity attributable to travel restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19.
She said while many domestic carriers were hanging by the thread prior to COVID -19 with large percentage of their earnings gulped by expenditure on aviation fuel, aircraft maintenance, aircraft lease payments ,aeronautical charges , personnel emoluments and sundry charges , continued lock down occasioned by Corona Virus has exacerbated the woes of indigenous airlines.
Adegbe said many Nigerian carriers were showing suicidal symptoms as some of them could barely meet their obligation amid declaration by particular carriers that it would not pay its workers salaries during the period of the lockdown.
Citing reports from International Air Transport Association (IATA), she said Nigerian carriers have so far lost over $760 million warranting calls for direct financial support to passenger and cargo carriers to compensate for reduced revenues and liquidity attributable to travel restrictions imposed as a result of covid-19.
She said, “Loans, loan guarantees and support for the corporate bond market by governments or central bank could come in handy at this challenging time.
“Also rebates on payroll taxes paid to date in 2020 and/or an extension of payment terms for the rest of 2020, along with a temporary waiver of ticket taxes and other Government-imposed levies. So here are my suggestions to help you stay afloat as an airline operator.
“Convert some of your passenger aircraft for cargo operations. You could transport medical supplies, agricultural products and other forms of freight. The cost of freight forwarding has more than tripled since COVID-19 so you might want to take advantage of that.
“A number of international airlines such as American Airlines, Korean Air and Cathay Pacific has already started using some of their passenger aircraft for cargo.
“More than ever before, your Flight Dispatchers can actually come to your rescue. They work in your Operations Control. They’re trained to help you. They know how to analyse scenarios, increase profitability and efficiency in the airlines without jeopardizing safety.
“If you do consider cargo operations, your Flight Dispatchers would work with your engineers to ascertain aircraft weight limitations and other parameters. You might want to request that the government considers relieving you of certain airline charges, levies and taxes or better still loan you the funds to help you stay afloat.
“While everyone is making serious adjustments to their lifestyle, I also call on the government to critically look into burning the plastic trays used at airport security screening points. This will definitely help curb the rate of spread of the virus during flights.”