The COVID-19 pandemic which has affected air travel continues unabated as many countries are still counting their losses. For Nigeria, statistics from the International Airline Transport Association (IATA) reveal that COVID-19 economic impact on Nigeria led to a revenue loss of $994 million in 2020. In terms of employment at risk in Nigeria, it is 125,370, and the loss of contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is put at $885 million.
Experts in the aviation industry on Wednesday brainstormed on myriads of problems besetting the aviation industry in Nigeria with a view to solving some of the problems including how the industry in Nigeria could quickly bounce back to recovery.
The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu lamented the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the global aviation industry, stressing that it would take Nigeria another 24 months or more for the sector to regain full recovery.
At a one-day seminar titled, “Nigeria’s aviation industry: Management, Policy, and Regulation”, held in Lagos, Yadudu further stated that to achieve that, aviation policy formulators must engage in policy engineering and make great financial decisions to get out of the woods. He stated that to do that successfully, all the aviation agencies and other support services would need government relief and financial intervention from the Federal Government.
He stated, “Without financial relief, I do not see a quick recovery. We need an aggressive policy and we need to do much more on implementation that is very aggressive. As you are aware Covid-19 has put the global economy to the test, with air transport being undoubtedly the hardest hit by the pandemic”.
The Nigerian Government, as a way of helping airlines and other aviation firms to ameliorate the excruciating effect of the pandemic, provided N5billion ($10 million) to an intervention fund which was considered grossly inadequate. Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika disclosed that the Ministry of Aviation in conjunction with the aviation agencies were working with the National Assembly to review/amend all the aviation agencies’ Acts to provide effective management of services and align with modern technological development in line with international best practices and development in International Civil Aviation.
The two Legislative Houses have held public hearings on the matter and are at the stage of finalization of their Report. The review of the Acts includes the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Act (NCAA) 2006; Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria Act 2010; Nigeria Airspace Management Agency Act 1999; Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Act, 1964; Nigerian Metrological Act, 2003; and Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau Act, 2019.
Speaking on behalf of airlines, Chairman of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema lamented the devastating effects of COVID-19 on airlines and the aviation industry at large, stating that Nigeria was not immune from the pandemic. According to him, “A lot has been said about airlines in Nigeria. Lack of good regulations and policies have been blamed for the myriad of problems confronting the sector. Things are evolving. We hope it will be better. Why are airlines failing? Could it be from the airlines themselves and other factors?”