Growth in air transport declined sharply by 57.38 percent in Q2 2020 from 5.68 percent in Q1 2020 and 12.31 percent in Q2 2019, according to Gross Domestic Products (GDP) figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday.
According to NBS, the decline was largely attributable to significantly lower levels of both domestic and international economic activity during the quarter, which resulted from nationwide shutdown efforts aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The domestic efforts ranged from initial restrictions of human and vehicular movement implemented in only a few states to a nationwide curfew and bans on domestic and international travel.
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) during the lockdown disclosed that over 120 aircraft were parked at various airports across the country, with airlines required to pay accumulated cost on leased aircraft, staff salaries, allowances for crew, parking and maintenance fees, and recurrent training.
AON also estimated N360 billion loss as a result of the impact of COVID-19.
Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, had said that the aviation sector is the most hit by the coronavirus pandemic, saying many airlines won’t survive the crisis.
According to Sirika, “We are very aware of our responsibilities and the weight attached to this. We are worst hit among all the sectors. Some 17 billion is being lost by the airlines monthly, thanks to COVID-19. The sector is highly regulated and very coordinated and has set standards that must be followed at all times, regardless, because we speak to safety.
“This is the situation of civil aviation. It is really a pathetic one and I can guarantee you that several airlines won’t come out of this unfortunately.”
In order to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, Seyi Adewale, the chief executive officer of Mainstream Cargo Limited, suggested that government stimulus packages and incentives must be given to limit the negative impact of this pandemic on the aviation subsector.
These, Adewale, said include deliberate sourcing, loans, grants, tax waivers, special forex windows and rates, airport infrastructure deliberate upgrades or construction, and reduction of airport taxes or surcharges.
He stated that locally and in Nigeria, the government can consider expanding the definition of aircraft spare parts to include other important aircraft items such as brake ASSY, safety appliances, rafts, aircraft tires in order to enjoy 0 percent duty waivers.