Sirika: Many Airlines Won’t Recover from COVID-19

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Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said that many airlines would not bounce back from the economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic.

The minister, who spoke at the briefing of COVID-19 Presidential task force on Wednesday noted that the impact of the pandemic on other sectors is incommensurate with that of aviation.

He pegged the monetary weight of the loss suffered by the aviation sector at N24 billion, saying it is irrecoverable.

“Certainly in civil aviation, we’re in very difficult moments like everyone else. All of this started because someone travelled. Unfortunately, he came back home with it and the consequence is what we’ve been going through,” he said.

“We are very aware of our responsibilities and the weight attached to this. We are the 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. Based on the trend of events prior to COVID-19, the total loss is about N21 billion approximately plus about N3 billion. It is divided in this form: N7 billion for aviation (what they lose in a month), N10 billion for airlines, N4 billion for ground handling, catering, etc., and then the taxation is N3 billion.

“Also, since you’re interested in dollars, what we got from the International Airline Transport Association (IATA), they’ve given us economic impact on Africa’s largest aviation markets. That for Nigeria, lost airline revenue is $994 million and in terms of employment at risk, 125,370. Loss of contribution to the GDP of the country is $885 million. Now these are IATA figures.”

To maintain profitability and minimize costs when business operations commence, some airlines have begun to disengage about 60% of their workforce and slash the salaries of retained workers.

Airlines in the country suspended operations after the federal government announced a closure of all airports in the country to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

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