Aviation and Media consultant, Chris Aligbe has called on the federal government to start taking steps to reposition the aviation sector from an imminent collapse following the severe impact of novel coronavirus (COVID-19)pandemic on the industry.
He said the call had become necessary as a result of the impact of travel restrictions which imposed globally as a measure to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos, Aligbe said the entire spectrum of the industry which includes aviation agencies, airlines, handling companies and other aviation allied support service providers are feeling the impact of the coronavirus-induced shutdown.
As a way of getting the industry back on its feet after the coronavirus pandemic, he advocated for special allocations to zviation agencies like the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), which depend on the flights to generate revenues to run the 22 airports under its management.
According to him, the suspension of flights by both domestic and foreign airlines had eroded the FAAN revenue base, as both aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues, have disappeared. He also said for airlines to survive after the pandemic, government must support them with grants to stay afloat without any fear of staff rationalisation.
He said though the airlines as well as handling companies like the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCo) and the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) are private businesses, they contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the employment opportunities they create and the taxes they pay.
Aligbe, one time Corporate Affairs manager of the defunct Nigeria Airways, noted that as well as FAAN, the Nigeria Air Space Management Agency (NAMA), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) as well as the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) need some lifeline to survive the COVID-19 Scourge.
Aligbe said NAMA which depends on flight charges and air route charges to sustain its operation is suffering under the weight of flight stoppages and therefore needs to be supported by government.
“Every aspect of the industry is impacted particularly because of the revenues in the industry depend on the flights whether it is aeronautical or non-aeronautical. The more flights you have into an airport, the more likely businesses will develop around the airport. The main revenue generation, the passenger sale charge (PSC), the ticket sale charge (TSC), which is the main revenue that is generated and shared among the parastatals particularly like the regulatory body that does not engage in business like the AIB and NIMET though NIMET engages in business limitedly” he said.
“But FAAN (the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria) engages in business and its business is dependent on the number of flights that come in; the landing and parking charges, the rentals, and other ancillary businesses. “Now FAAN cannot get that because flights are not coming, all businesses are shut down and more importantly on the side of FAAN, they are losing both aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues. They have lost it and there is no other place for them to generate any fund,” he further said.
He observed that even with the advocated intervention, it would take the industry more than two years to bounce back and be able to expand, adding that the government can push the national carrier project to be able to generate employment in the aviation industry immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic.