Aviation experts have insisted that the Federal Government must be transparent and clarify how the expected palliatives will be disbursed and the conditions which operators must meet before they can receive bailouts.
Reacting to the statement made at a meeting with the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondent (LAAC) where the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, said that the Federal Government’s palliatives will only be given to operational airlines with valid Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), experts have said that the sector needs a clear statement from the government that removes grey areas or speculations.
Nuhu said that any airline can apply for bailouts, whether functioning or not but that it is a policy that participating airlines must be functioning and with Air Operators Certificate. On the economic viability of Nigerian airlines, the DG explained that the COVID-19 has leveled even the strongest of carriers and most are being handed bailouts to survive across the globe.
Aviation security expert, Captain John Ojiukutu told Daily Sun that any operator, whether private charter companies or domestic scheduled operators, which contribute financially to the federation accounts should be entitled to government palliatives.
He said the government must revisit the operators contribution to the 5% on the airlines passengers tickets sales charges (TSC) and the 5% charges on the private operators chartered flight charges and any airline that has not been regular in the payment or are indebted in arrears to the government safety services providers should not be entitled to government palliatives.
“I agree that only airlines with AOC should get palliatives but the type of the palliatives must be defined. Any operator that contributes financially to the federation accounts should be entitled to government palliatives. We must therefore revisit the operator’s contribution to the 5% on the airlines passengers’ tickets sales charges (TSC) and the 5% charges on the private operators chartered flight charges. Any airline that has not been regular in the payment or are indebted in arrears to the government safety services providers (from FAAN and NAMA) should not be entitled to government palliatives. Palliatives should not be Father Christmas offer; it should be where you sow is where you reap,” Ojikutu said.
Another expert and partner in Emftri Group, Amos Akpan said the nature of the palliatives should be clearly defined for accountability and records and to avoid speculations. On which category of operators should be entitled, he said if the government wants to limit palliatives to scheduled domestic operators, it does not imply that charter operators were not affected by covid-19.
“If there are palliatives, what is the nature of the palliatives? We need to be enlightened for accountability and records. Are they giving cash to operating airlines with current AOC? Are they funding their bank accounts? Are they instructing their banks to extend their existing facilities, postpone repayment timelines on principal sum, reduce interest rates?
Does it cover only airlines? What about other aviation companies/operators that were affected by covid-19? When will it become effective?
“In the current Nigerian economy, domestic air travel of any kind is for the elites. Commercial airline operations are companies that operate aircraft as allowed by NCAR 2009 for money making. They sell seats, cargo space, and offer full aircraft for charter to customers; and the company gets paid for it. This includes agricultural spraying aircraft, aerial mapping aircraft, helicopter services, scheduled and unscheduled services.
“If the government wants to limit palliatives to scheduled domestic operators, it does not imply that charter operators were not affected by covid-19. I have a friend who operates helicopter charter services that has not operated one charter service for five months due to covid-19. The government might not have enough to go round; it would be appropriate to properly explain their limitation instead of unsalable excuses. After all every current operator(airline) is somebody’s private business,” he said.