COVID-19: FG Approves N5bn Bailout For Aviation Sector
Federal Government has approved N5 billion as bailout fund to the country’s aviation sector to douse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their operations.
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, made this known on Monday in Abuja, at the ongoing 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).
Speaking on the bailout fund, Sirika said N4 billion goes to the domestic airlines while the balance of N1 billion will be shared amongst the aviation agencies and other relevant aviation companies that have been badly affected by the pandemic.
The Minister stated that very soon, the funds would be distributed to the carriers even as he stressed that the aviation industry in Nigeria was too crucial to allow it to fail.
However, in a sharp reaction, the chairman, Senate committee on aviation, Senator Adeyemi Smart, described the N4 billion bailout to the domestic carriers as a paltry sum which he said did not impress the senate.
He urged the Federal Executive Council to review the airline’s bailout assistance.
Emphasising his displeasure, Senator Adeyemi declared;
While warning that if nothing was done to assist the carriers, that the tendency for them to cut corners was very high in the midst of dwindling liquidity, Senator Adeyemi further said;
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 N4 billion we are assisting them with.
Sirika in his response to the complaints of Senator Adeyemi noted the plea of the National Assembly for more financial support to be given to the airlines but pleaded with the lawmakers to grant approval for funds to struggling airlines.