The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Senator, Smart Adeyemi has appealed to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to strive to increase the bailout for airline operators in the country as the N4 billion approved for them is not enough.
His appeal is coming following the announcement by the Aviation Minister that the N4 billion for airline operators and N1 million for ground handling companies and others.
The Chairman who had earlier pleaded with the Federal Government to give the airline operators bailout said that the N4 billion approved is not just enough, adding that with the outbreak of COVID-19, the high cost is spare parts that are always purchased in Dollars and the cost of maintenance, the Federal Government should increase it.
According to him, “The global economy is in recession and Nigeria’s economy inclusive. For Nigerian airlines to be able to pick up again after the outbreak of COVID-19, they must be given a substantial bailout. Let’s look at the cost of spare parts for the airlines and the duties that they perform. Though we might argue that the business is a private one, it is centered around safety. The N4 billion approved for the airlines by the Federal Government is too little to make an impact on the operations of the airlines.”
He continued, If you want to keep the airlines in business and you don’t want them to start cutting corners, there is a need to look at the airlines to give them substantive supports. If they start cutting corners, that will be worse for the industry. We may not be professionals in the sector, but we know how some of the airlines outside the country operate.”
He said that the bailout I’d very necessary to prevent the idea of cutting corners on the part of operators.
He also called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to assist in providing a substantial bailout to airline operators in the country, as according to him, airlines were worst hit by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking further, Adeyemi said, “The role of aviation cannot the over-emphasized. Minister, you have a role to play to take the issues of the airline operators to the Federal Executive Council (FEC). I don’t know if the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is here, but, they too have a role to play to ensure safety in the sector.”
Responding, the Minister of Aviation also appealed to the Senate to ensure it helps to include the increase advocated for in the 2021 budget and that he would be willing to pursue the matter from there.
He also reiterated that the 10 new airports to be developed as earlier announced in line with the Aviation Master Plan.
Sirika explained that the present administration sees airports as national assets, adding that the more airports Nigeria has the better for the economy.
He pointed out that he doesn’t like the word ‘unviable’ airport, adding that no airport is unviable.
To buttress his point, he cited the example of Akure Airport which according to him did not witness any flight initially but that today two flights operate into the airport.
He said that with the advent of the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) there will be a boost in the air transport market.