COVID-19: Why FG needs to rescue its domestic carriers

There is an imminent trouble waiting to burst in the country’s aviation sector for obvious reasons traced to the deadly coronavirus pandemic which is presently ripping through the fabrics of nations in the world.

Though the imminent troubles will not be limited to Nigeria, the effect on the aviation sector particularly the domestic airline scene in the country can be likened to an ill will that will blow no one good at the end of the day.

Presently, the aviation sector is the most hit by the pandemic due to the different measures the various governments including that of Nigeria continue to reel out to wrestle the deadly virus.

Such measures which include: travel bans to suspension of international and in some cases suspension of local flights has led to the collapse of domestic airline business in Nigeria where all the five airlines have suspended flights.

The domestic airlines, Air Peace, Arik, Aero, Dana Air and Overland Airways had attributed reasons for the suspension of their flights to the need to help government in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus through air transport and to prevent monumental losses due to low patronage.

Prior to the coming of covid-19, the domestic airlines had been operating under economic hardship with some either reducing their frequencies or stopping their operations.

Unfortunately, the outbreak of COVID-19 may have come to nail the coffin of what is remaining of the domestic airline scene in the country if nothing concrete is done by the government.

Without doubt, the fate of the domestic airlines is more pathetic than those of their counterparts in other climes in view of the government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the sector.

Going by the rate at which the virus is ravaging all the sectors with aviation hard hit, it becomes unpredictable how the Nigerian airlines will survive the ripple effects.

For sure, the airlines must have so many challenges to contend with ranging from the losses they must have incurred from the parking of their aircraft on ground, payment of aviation taxes and salaries of workers amongst others responsibilities.

It is a fact that most of the airline transactions are done in foreign currencies and in line with the international standards which requires adequate funds. Fulfilling these obligations may however become a tough deal for the domestic airlines following the negative effect of COVID-19.

Fears are already being nursed across the sector as to whether the domestic airlines will be able to survive the aftermath effect of COVID-19.

Key players out of fear are predicting that one or two of the existing domestic airlines may find it difficult to bounce back or should they manage to bounce back may take some drastic actions that may include: downsising of their workforce and suspension of operations to some Nigeria routes as a means of survival.

ALSO READ: COVID-19: The Worst Is Yet To Occur In Africa, Say Obasanjo, Mbeki, Chissano, Kufuor, Other Leaders

To save the country’s domestic airline scene from total extinction, this is the best time for the government to step in and roll out some palliative measures that will help stabilise them otherwise, Nigeria’s air travelers may be in for a hard time.

Without much time wasting, the government should assist the airlines in reducing the humongous taxes they were hitherto paying to the government through its agencies; this time around, it may not be too much to consider a bailout package for the troubled airlines. That the airlines need total waivers amongst other palliatives that will help them in recovering from the economic disaster inflicted on their operations by COVID-19.

It is hoped that the government will this time around come to the rescue of the domestic airlines or it could as well forget about domestic airline business which will be an invitation to the total takeover of the sector by foreign airlines.

 

 

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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