The coronavirus pandemic has been causing the Nigerian aviation sector a loss of around N21 billion every month since its outbreak.
Hadi Sirika, the Aviation Minister, made the disclosure on Wednesday during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He stated that the enormous loss resulted from lack of activities in the sector, whose main income derive from flight operations.
“In civil aviation, we are in a very difficult moment like everyone else. All of these things started because someone travelled and unfortunately came back home with it (ailment) and the consequence is what we have been going through.
“We are the worst-hit than any other sector. Based on the trend of events before COVID-19, the total loss is about N21 billion approximately plus about N3 billion tangentially and this is divided in this form: N7 billion for aviation agencies which they lose in a month, N10 billion for airline and N4 billion for ground handling, catering and others and the tangential N3 billion,” Mr Sirika said.
The Nigerian aviation industry has been crippled by inactivity as a result of the pandemic, causing government to announce closure of all international airports in the country for an initial period of one month on 23rd March while local airports were shut down days after.
The closure was prolonged by two weeks after the expiration of the initial closure while another extension was announced by government on Wednesday for four weeks.
“Also the figures from the International Airline Transport Association (AITA) Economics gave economic impact in Africa’s largest aviation market and that for Nigeria; airline revenue loss is $994 million.
“In terms of employment at risk in Nigeria, it is 125,370 and loss of contribution to the GDP is $885 million.
“These are IATA figures and because the sector has to do service delivery and it has not been able to render services, then the revenue is lost because the service has not been rendered and that means I have lost it,” the minister added.
He noted that aviation was the fastest growing sector in the country as of the last quarter of 2018 and moved on to become the fastest growing sector at Q4 2019 according to the statistics office.
According to him, many airlines will find it pretty had to recover from the COVID-19 crisis considering the enormity of the damage it has caused already.
“This is the situation of civil aviation, it is a pathetic one, we are all crying and I can guarantee you several airlines are not going to come out of it, unfortunately.
“They will not be able to just open up after closing for several weeks and start flying. For example, if you keep your car for several weeks and you come back to start it after six months, the car will develop a problem.”