The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture NACCIMA has commended the federal government’s planned bailout of Nigerian airlines due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement signed by the Director General of NACCIMA, Ayo Olukanni, the organisation said the pandemic has had devastating effects on the aviation industry, which makes the planned bailout very critical.
“There is an immediate need for a rescue package and we welcome the reassurance by the federal government to support the aviation sector at this hour of its need. NACCIMA is of the view that special attention should be paid to the aviation Industry in form of a special rescue package.
“Such a package must include funding and financial support and waiver of tax and other fees. This is to ensure that Nigerian airlines and its work force and indeed the entire industry survive COVID-19 and plays its role in rebuilding the economy Post COVID era.
“Globally the aviation sector across the world is one of the most visibly hit with closure of airports, drop in passengers and grounded planes across the world and thousands of workers either laid off or on forced leave. In Nigeria the situation has been the same and speculation is that the industry has lost about N21 billion. This sector therefore deserves a special package,” the association added.
NACCIMA also said the objective should be to save the sector from total collapse and reposition these airlines to carry out strategic operations at this period and be able to rebuild their businesses post COVID-19 era.
“We strongly recommend that domestic airlines with the capacity to do so should be patronised to convey essential material drugs, some food items, PPE, needed medical personnel, etc as may be required across the country.
“On evacuation of Nigerians back home domestic airlines should be fully involved in the international airlifts and repatriation of Nigerians stranded abroad. Some of the airlines have demonstrated they have the capacity to do so and they should be given the opportunity to do so rather than patronising foreign Airlines.
“The Nigerian aviation sector must be supported now. Prior to this period, it was struggling. It should not be allowed to go under because through their operations and resumption of flights, domestic operations will gain traction and this will help these airlines to gain a foothold in the sub region and subsequently international routes.
“Tax relief, waivers of fees on planes currently grounded should be considered as part of the support package. Likewise, consideration should be given to a review of their debt profiles with a moratorium on existing loans for next two years.
“Where consolidation will enable economy of scale this can be considered as part of the bailout programme,” NACCIMA said.