The federal government has approved a whooping five billion naira for the operators of the Aviation sector following the challenges that trailed the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika stated this at the opening of a three-day public hearing on the six executive bills meant to reorganise the civil aviation agencies in the country.
The minister said the funds would soon be disbursed to the expected beneficiaries.
He said the airline operators would get N4bn while other businesses in the Aviation sector would be given N1bn
The Minister however stated that very soon, the funds would be distributed to the carriers, stressing that the aviation industry in Nigeria was too crucial to fail.
He described the sector both in Nigeria and elsewhere as very important to economic development of any nation.
But, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi urged the Federal Government to do more as the fund would not be enough for the sector.
“N4bn 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.
“Yes, 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 N4b we are assisting them with.”
Sirika fired back, saying he had noted the plea of the National Assembly to give more financial support to the airlines but pleaded with the lawmakers to grant approval for funds to struggling airlines.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the government to implement specific financial relief measures for aviation to ensure that the sector will be capable of driving the recovery.
Prior to the crisis, aviation contributed $1.7 billion to Nigeria’s GDP and supported 241,000 jobs.
IATA estimates that the COVID-19 crisis puts 124,000 Nigerian jobs at risk and some $900 million of the country’s GDP.
The Nigerian government has introduced broad economic relief packages to mitigate the devastation caused by COVID-19
“Nigeria has announced general relief measures for sectors affected by COVID-19, but not specifically for aviation. Given the importance of air transport for Nigeria’s economy and connectivity, the government must not let aviation fail.