There is a strong indication that the Federal Government of Nigeria would soon start disbursing the approved bailout fund of N5 billion (Ghs 76.74 million) to operators in the aviation sector, which is intended to ameliorate the harsh realities of the COVID-19 pandemic on their business operations.
The disclosure was made by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, to key stakeholders, during the ongoing three-day public hearing to repeal and enact Acts of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), and that of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
According to the Minister, out of the N5 billion bailout fund, N4 billion (Ghs 61.4 million) would go the domestic airlines, while the remaining N1 billion (Ghs 15.4 million) will be fairly shared among agencies and other relevant aviation companies that were severely affected by the pandemic.
According to Senator Adeyemi Smart, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aviation, the bail-out fund is too small to cushion the effects the pandemic had on operators’ businesses and requested that the Federal Government review the bailout fund to a more reasonable amount that would be sufficient.
“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 support in many ways,” he said.
That COVID-19 pandemic pummeled Nigeria’s aviation industry is no longer a subject of argument or analysis, but the impact of its devastating effects will take a long time and resources to erase.
At the commencement of aviation activities after three-months lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Government promised to assist the industry with a N27 billion (Ghs 413 million) bailout to cushion the effects of the lockdown on the industry.
It is important to know that some airlines have been limping since life came back to the sector after the lockdown, in the hope that the proposed bailout would speedily come to provide them with the much-needed lifeline.
No doubt this fund would go a long way in assisting the sector to rebound, but not adequate to assuage the excruciating losses and pains inflicted by the pandemic on the sector.