COVID-19: Aviation Sector Loses N24b, Airlines May Not Survive Post-Pandemic – Sirika

Hadi Sirika
Hadi Sirika

The Nigerian aviation sector has been the worst hit since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, Mr. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation has said.

Addressing journalists during the daily briefing by the Presidential Task Force on the control of COVID-19, Sirika said the sector has lost approximately N24 billion due to the closure of the country’s airports.

Based on the trend of events prior to COVID-19, the total loss is about N21 billion approximately plus about N3 billion (trajectionally).

It is divided into 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 in Africa’s largest aviation markets. That for Nigeria, lost airline revenue is $994 million and in terms of employment at risk, 125,370. The loss of contribution to the GDP of the country is $885 million. Now, these are IATA figures.

“And finally to say that, because it is service-nature, that is a service industry, it’s not like Honourable Emeka Majuro’s shop in Aba, which I know he has. If he’s not able to sell his spare parts, they are there. It means it’s only a delayed income so to speak.

“But because the airline is serviced by the income it generates, they have not provided service, they are unable to do so, they have not flown, so have lost it. I cannot regain it. I cannot sell it tomorrow. So, 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.”

“We are in very difficult moments like everyone else. All of this started because someone travelled and unfortunately came back home with it and the consequence is what we’ve been going through. We are the worst hit than any other sector. Some N17 billion naira monthly is being lost by the airlines, thanks to COVID-19,” he said.

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The minister said the aviation sector is highly regulated and has set standards that must be followed at all times, stressing that the sector may not be able to reopen soon.

“We will not be able to open up after closing for several weeks and perhaps for some months. There are safety issues and concerns. Those airplanes have been kept and when we are going to bring them back into service, we will have to ensure that they are airworthy and that they can make those flights safely.

“So also, for the flight crew, they have certain standards they must conform with. They have licensing issues that will fall due for recurrency to be done within this period, so what do u do with them.

“Certainly they won’t just pick up their bags and continue where they left. They must conform to those standards and ensure that they are safe to operate both in terms of their health and their proficiency to be able to conduct a very safe flight,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s airlines will lose 3.5 million passengers resulting in a $ 0.76 billion revenue loss. No less than 91,380 jobs originating directly and indirectly from the airlines in Africa with $0.65 billion in contribution to economy are also at a risk of being lost.

These were the latest projections the International Air Transport Association which saw potential revenue loss of the industry in Africa and Middle East reached $23 billion ($19 billion in the Middle East and $4 billion in Africa.)

According to IATA, some of the impacts at national level include: Saudi Arabia – 26.7 million fewer passengers resulting in a $5.61billion revenue loss, risking 217,570 jobs and US$13.6 billion in contribution to Saudi Arabia’s economy.

UAE- 23.8 million fewer passengers resulting in a $5.36 billion revenue loss, risking 287,863 jobs and US$17.7 billion in contribution to the UAE’s economy.

Egypt- 9.5 million fewer passengers resulting in a $1.6 billion revenue loss, risking almost 205,560 jobs and around $2.4 billion in contribution to the Egyptian economy.

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Qatar- 3.6 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$1.32 billion revenue loss, risking 53,640 jobs and US$2.1billion in contribution to Qatar’s economy.

Jordan- 2.8 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$0.5 billion revenue loss, risking 26,400 jobs and US$0.8 billion in contribution to Jordan’s economy.

South Africa -10.7 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$2.29 billion revenue loss, risking 186,850 jobs and US$3.8 billion in contribution to South Africa’s economy.

Nigeria – 3.5 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$ 0.76 billion revenue loss, risking 91,380 jobs and US$0.65 billion in contribution to Nigeria’s economy.

Ethiopia – 1.6 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$0.3billion revenue loss, risking 327,062 jobs and US$1.2 billion in contribution to Ethiopia’s economy.

Kenya – 2.5 million fewer passengers resulting in a US$ 0.54 billion revenue loss, risking 137,965 jobs and US$1.1 billion in contribution to Kenya’s economy.

Despite the COVID-19 occasioned slump in the global aviation sector, the management of Ibom Air, an Akwa Ibom State-owned and operated airline has announced the acquisition more aircraft.

The new aircraft, which brings to four the number of aircrafts in Ibom Air fleet, is said to be capable of filtering and eliminating any contaminated air from its interior, according a press release in its official facebook page on Wednesday.

Ibom Air which commenced commercial flight operations on June 7, 2019, with three aircraft, airlifted 50,000 passengers within 100 days of operations and recorded 98 percent on-time flight departure, according to report from the company.

(Business a.m/Blueprint)