Uncertainty Over N27bn Aviation Palliative
There is uncertainty in the aviation industry over the delay in releasing the palliatives promised by the federal government
Already, fears of massive job losses have grown as airline operators, agencies and other service providers groan over depleting cash reserves due to the dwindling operations.
Daily Trust reports that airlines resumed domestic flights on July 8, four months after suspension of operation due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
Since then, it they have been operating at between 30 and 40 percent capacity with most aircraft still parked.
In response to the cries of the operators for palliatives, the federal government rolled out a N27bn intervention fund for the aviation sector.
The palliative was recommended by the Economic Sustainability Committee headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, which submitted its report in June.
The N27bn for the industry, according to the committee, has project elements to extend grant support including payroll support to the aviation industry.
But as at yesterday, operators said they were yet to receive any form of palliatives whether from the federal government or any of its agencies, and they were becoming increasingly restless.
Daily Trust gathered that many operators including airlines were already announcing job cuts to stay afloat.
Air Peace, Nigeria’s biggest carrier, this week, disengaged over 70 pilots, and cutting salaries by 40 percent for some staff.
This came after some the affected workers rejected an 80 percent pay cut, prompting the airline to take what it called, “the painful and necessary decision” to sack them.
Also, Azman Air recently fired its Chief Pilot for opposing the pay cut the airline proposed for the pilots under him. The airline eventually sacked an unspecified number of pilots, it was gathered.
Another airline also proposed to pay pilots by flying, it was learnt; the development which is described as a major threat to safety.
Apart from the airlines, even the aviation agencies including FAAN, NCAA, NAMA, among others, are under serious pressure owing to dwindling revenues.
FAAN, for instance, was only able to pay 50 percent of salaries to staff in July amid grumbling from the unions which have threatened industrial action by next week.
Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, had said, the palliatives should be targeted at job retention in order to enable airlines and other operators to pay their staff.
But operators who spoke with Daily Trust yesterday insisted they were unsure when the palliatives would come, saying more than one month after the Osinbajo recommendation was unveiled, nothing had been heard.
Director of Research at Zenith Travels, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo told Daily trust yesterday that, “it is disappointing” that the palliative promised by the government, despite being “too little is coming too late.”
He feared the palliatives might not come until 2021. He said by then, many airlines would have become extinct.
The Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, who was contacted yesterday on the delay in releasing the palliatives was yet to respond to our correspondent’s enquiry as of the time of this report.