Aviation stakeholders laud FG’s proposed bailout, seek resumption of local flights

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SOME aviation stakeholders on Wednesday commended the Federal Government for its planned bailout to the sector following the lockdown of the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, they also urged the government to reopen domestic flights to cushion the impact on the industry.

Prince Clem Agba, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning had on Tuesday said that the government would explore ways of supporting the airlines, because the sector might have lost N21 billion monthly due to the current pandemic.

Commenting, Mr Illitrus Ahmadu, President, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), told NAN that the proposed bailout would help the industry.

Ahmadu said that without a bailout the impact of the current pandemic on the industry would be very devastating.

The union president said that the coalition of all the aviation unions had earlier written to the government for an intervention to rebound the industry.

“Before now, our industry was not in a very good shape and the airlines fortune were going down due to numerous challenges.

“For us, if nothing happens after the lockdown with regards to a bailout to the sector, the impact will be too much,”  he said.

The ATSSSAN president said due to the challenges, some airline operators had unilaterally taken decisions that would affect their workers without following due process.

Ahmadu said it was good news to hear that government was thinking toward bailing out the aviation industry, because for an airline to be shut down for months, it required a lot of resources to resume operations.

He, however, appealed to the government to allow the resumption of local flights with strict regulations.

Ahmadu said all the precautionary measures should be put in place, such as effective fumigation of the aircraft and administration of proper safety standard procedures to cabin crew and passengers.

The union president said it was easier to manage the aviation sector than any other land transportation in terms of regulations.

Ahmadu appealed to employers of labour to rescind their decisions to lay off workers at this time.

Also, an aviation expert, Retired Group Capt. John Ojikutu, advised the government to adopt the previous guidelines used for the sector when disbursing the bailout.

Ojikutu, who is also the Secretary General, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), said that beneficiaries should be asked to submit their NCAA certified economic audit reports of at least four years to ensure compliance to the Nigeria CARs Economic Regulations.

“Airlines that benefited from the recent past interventions and have not fully refunded the intervention should not be considered.

“In addition, airlines that are less than five years in operations should not be considered, while those with recurred debts of more than a year owed to critical safety services providers should be denied the bailout,” he said. (NAN)

– May 6, 2020 @ 13:49 GMT |

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