September 16, 2020

COVID-19: Only functional airlines will benefit from N27bn palliative ― FG

Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu

By Lawani Mikairu

Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu has disclosed that the federal government palliatives for Nigerian airlines to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on their operations will only be accessed by domestic airlines that are functional and operating regular flights.

Captain Nuhu made the disclosure in Lagos at a Webinar with aviation Correspondents. He said both “ defunct and functional airlines are free to apply for the fund but it is the policy of the Federal government to make it accessible to functional airlines”.

He, however, added that the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, the umbrella body of all domestic airlines, would not make the mistake of putting forward a defunct airline for the palliative

Recall the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had revealed that the federal government has set aside N27 Billion Naira as a stimulus package to assist the aviation sector to overcome the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic as the sector is the most impacted by the pandemic.

According to Captain Nuhu: “Any airline can apply, whether functioning or not but it is a policy that participating airlines must be functioning and with Air Operators Certificate, AOC. I also believe that the AON has its own rules and they know the criteria, I believe the AON will not put forward a non- functioning airline”.

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Speaking on Aero-politics and the discriminating policies of other countries against Nigerian airlines who venture into international flight operations, Nuhu said the NCAA will do all in its powers to protect the airlines, adding, however, that the airlines should always go through the regulatory authority whenever they are planning to launch into any foreign route.

” The airlines should always carry the NCAA, the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian embassy in the country they are flying into along, we are here to help them grow, they should carry us along, it will be very helpful when the airlines carry the regulatory body along.

“And when they have difficulties, they should complain to us , we will sit with them and guide them and even go with them, there must be fairness from both sides”, he said.

On the health status of domestic airlines, the NCAA DG said the situation in Nigeria is not different from what is happening across the globe. He further said that even the airlines that have received millions of dollars in palliatives abroad are yet to get out of the woods.

“The financial health of airlines is not limited to Nigerian airlines, it is a global issue, especially due to the impact of COVID-19. We have seen airlines that have gotten millions of subsidies from their governments, yet they are having issues.

“Many airlines have sacked workers, BA, Emirates, Lufthansa sacked workers and are withdrawing some aircraft. It is a global thing. But the government is working on the palliative”, he added.

Vanguard News Nigeria.