Nigeria’s aviation sector has been losing about N21 billion monthly since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, an official has said.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this at the daily Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.
He said the huge loss is associated with lack of activities at the sector whose income solely depends on flight operations.
“In civil aviation, we are in a very difficult moment like everyone else. All of these things started because someone travelled and unfortunately came back home with it (ailment) and the consequence is what we have been going through.
“We are the worst-hit than any other sector. Based on the trend of events before COVID-19, the total loss is about N21 billion approximately plus about N3 billion tangentially and this is divided in this form: N7 billion for aviation agencies which they lose in a month, N10 billion for airline and N4 billion for ground handling, catering and others and the tangential N3 billion,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on all sectors of the economy.
The Nigerian government had on March 23 shut all international airports in the country for an initial period of one month. Local airports were also shut days later. Following the one month completion, the airport closure was extended by two weeks.
An additional four weeks extension was announced on Wednesday afternoon.
The move was part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus which has affected over three million people worldwide and killed over 270,000.
However, the government said emergency and essential flights could be operated from any of the airports within the period.
The minister said statistics from the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) on COVID-19’s economic impact on Nigeria has revealed a revenue loss of $994 million.
“Also the figures from the International Airline Transport Association (AITA) Economics gave economic impact in Africa’s largest aviation market and that for Nigeria; airline revenue loss is $994 million. In terms of employment at risk in Nigeria, it is 125,370 and loss of contribution to the GDP is $885 million.
“These are IATA figures and because the sector has to do service delivery and it has not been able to render services, then the revenue is lost because the service has not been rendered and that means I have lost it,” he said.
He explained that the aviation sector was the fastest growing sector in the country before the COVID-19 outbreak.
”At the end of 2018 Q4, aviation became the second-fastest-growing sector in the country and Q4 2019 just finished and aviation was the fastest growing sector in Nigeria.
”This is the figures by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistic. We believe the roadmap we are running will take us to greater heights and it is adding to the GDP and the general wellbeing of our economy,” he said.
”This is the situation of civil aviation, it is a pathetic one, we are all crying and I can guarantee you several airlines are not going to come out of it, unfortunately.
“They will not be able to just open up after closing for several weeks and start flying. For example, if you keep your car for several weeks and you come back to start it after six months, the car will develop a problem.
”So, the airplanes have been kept and when we are going to bring them back into service, we will make sure that they are airworthy and they can make those flights safely.
“So also the flight crew; those flying the airplanes. They have certain standards they must conform with. They have their licensing issues to also sort out which will fall due for recurrence within this period,” he said.
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