The Federal government has approved the sum of N4 billion as bailout funds for airlines to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the aviation sector in Nigeria.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced this when he appeared before the senate committee on aviation today Monday, November 2.
Sirika appeared before the panel in respect of a public hearing on the repeal and the reenactment of the laws establishing the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Sirikia mentioned to the lawmakers that the aviation sector is key to the development of any country in the world. He told the lawmakers that most of the airlines are having challenges paying workers’ salaries.
Senator Smart Adeyemi, chairman of the aviation committee, however, kicked against the bailout, stating that it was very little to go round airlines. While calling for more funds for the sector, Adeyemi said the federal government must offer assistance to the airlines.
“[The] N4 billion is very little to solve some of the problems of the airlines who are battling to survive. We urge the government to take charge of the sector.
They need to give them more and they also need to support in all ways. The airlines are in business but we cannot continue to look at them without offering them assistance.
I am not comparing Nigeria with the United States, but I think we can do better than the N4 billion we are assisting them with.”
Airlines were shut down in March as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID19 in Nigeria. Domestic flight reopened for operations in July while International flights resumed operations in September.