The International Air Transport Association on Thursday urged Nigeria not to allow its aviation sector to fail.
This followed the announcement by the Federal Government that the country’s aviation sector was losing over N17bn monthly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had also hinted on Wednesday that some airlines in the industry might not survive the current lockdown which had seen a ban on flights extended by four weeks.
IATA further directed the Nigerian government to develop aviation-specific financial relief measures to address the severe impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the air transport sector.
The global agency’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Muhammad Albakri, said in a statement that given the importance of air transport to Nigeria’s economy and connectivity, the government should not allow the industry to fail.
He said, “Nigeria has announced general relief measures for sectors affected by COVID-19, but not specifically for aviation.
“Given the importance of air transport for Nigeria’s economy and connectivity, the government must not let aviation fail.
“The industry faces a liquidity crisis. Without a viable aviation sector, Nigeria’s eventual recovery from COVID-19 will be longer and even more painful. Aviation-specific financial relief measures are urgently needed as a matter of survival.”
Albakri said air transport had grounded to a halt in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, stressing that the direct impact on jobs and companies in the aviation sector had affected tourism, hospitality and trade.
Prior to the crisis, the aviation sector contributed $1.7bn to Nigeria’s Gross a Domestic Product and supported 241,000 jobs.
IATA estimated that the COVID-19 crisis puts 124,000 Nigerian jobs at risk and some $900m of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.