By Ayoola Olaitan
The Chief Executive Officer, CEO of Belujane Konzult, Mr. Chris Aligbe has urged the airline operators not to seek for waiver of licenses rather intervention fund from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, would help the aviation sector overcome the current economic situation.
According to him, such soft loan from CBN should not be categorized as a grant, but money to sustain the industry.
“It is important for this fiscal intervention to come straight from the CBN. CBN should be able to set aside N100 to N150 billion for this purpose. It is not for any airline to make demands because it must be clear exactly what the airline needs the fund for, so that it can be effectively monitored”, the Aviation veteran said.
He observed that the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele talked about trillions worth of intervention fund for the economy.
“It is not a government’s budget but a loanable fund. It is like what they give overseas at one or two per cent interest rate. That is what we are going to do on a rescue mission”.
However, there is need for strict condition which the government needs to give to the airlines before they can access the soft loan which is they must not sack their workers. The government has to be interested in not adding to the unemployment level in the country.
According to him, the aviation industry globally is in very serious trouble because about 96 percent of the aircrafts worldwide are on the ground.
“Only few activities are happening; talk of cargo and emergency flights. This means that there is almost a total loss of revenue and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has projected that,” Aligbe said.
Aligbe noted that what has saved the country aviation from air crashes for some time was the elimination of waivers and unnecessary extension, except when it became very necessary and it was for a very short period of time.
He also noted that the country has recorded five-year fatal accident-free record in the air travel sector.
He stated that the government’s parastatals depend fees that are from the passengers and the majority of that is from the foreign airlines.
“Fares on foreign airlines are more. A five per cent on N300, 000 is by far higher than five per cent on N25, 000 or N50, 000 local flights. Airport charges are like that too. So, if the airlines do not pick up to the level of pre-COVID-19, then the revenue will not come to the agencies too”.
Aligbe further noted that normalcy in sector is not expected to return until about 18 months because travellers will still be afraid of infection without vaccines, there will be restrictions in some countries and then because of recession, lack of funds to spend will prevent people from travelling like before, except when it is very important.