N5bn Airline Fund Small, Operators Say
Shocks have trailed the Federal Government’s approval of N4 billion intervention fund for airlines as some operators said it is too small to address any challenge facing the airline industry.
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had announced the approval of N4bn for the airlines and N1bn for other businesses within the civil aviation sector, but it is yet to be released.
At the Senate Committee on Aviation hearing, the Committee Chairman, Senator Smart Adeyemi, said the money was too meagre as he asked for a review.
The operators joined this call saying the bailout was “abysmally meagre”.
“We still waited until the money would be disbursed. We don’t have the details yet, we don’t know how they want to share the N4bn for all the airlines. Until then we can make our position known,” said an operator.
The Managing Director of Westlinks Airline, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia lauded the move. “I would only plead that the government should rethink it and look at it because there is no economy that would grow in this modern time without aviation,” Mshelia said in a Radio Nigeria interview.
Mshelia suggested a palliative of N1 trillion or more to address airline challenges.
He said funds were needed urgently by airlines for aircraft maintenance, training and retraining, spare parts, Jet A1, among others.
General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Ocheme Aba stated that the N4bn was not enough to pay one month salary of the airline workers.
“When you look at it in terms of the quantum of what is needed as a bailout, then it is really not something we should say hurray about,” he said.