• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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COVID-19: FG approves N4bn bailout fund for airlines

Emirates offers to assist in setting up Nigeria’s national carrier

The Federal Government has approved N4 billion as a bailout fund to airlines to cushion the effects of the impact of the devastation of COVID-19 on their operations.

Hadi Sirika, Aviation Minister, made the disclosure on Monday in Abuja on a three-day public hearing to repeal and enact Acts of 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).

Sirika also stated that the Federal Government approved additional N1b for aviation agencies to also cushion the sorry state of most of them which have made payment of salaries difficult for many of them.

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 allow it to fail.

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He described the sector both in Nigeria and elsewhere as very important to the economic development of any nation.

However, Smart Adeyemi, Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation described the sum as too meager for the carriers that are struggling to survive, urged the Federal Government to do more.

His words, “N4b 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”.

He warned that if nothing was done to assist the carriers, the tendency for them to cut corners was very high in the midst of dwindling liquidity.

“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”.

In his response, Sirika stated that 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.