Aviation Revival Plans To Gulp N27bn, National Carrier To Be Fast Tracked

Aviation Revival Plans To Gulp N27bn, National Carrier To Be Fast Tracked

  • Airlines, others to get single digit interest loans

In a bid to put the aviation industry on the path of recovery, the Federal Government is providing financial support where necessary to ensure that the sector does not just survive, but also sustain air connectivity to keep passenger traffic as well as supply lines for essential and cargo flights open.

The Federal Government unfolded these in it economic plan christened ‘Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan.’ Following the health and economic emergencies caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, President Muhammadu Buhari established the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) on March 30, 2020.

Members of the committee include Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, States, Aviation, Industry, Trade and Investment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Works and Housing, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Affairs.

Others are ministers of Communications and Digital Economy, Education, Health, Interior, Science and Technology, Transportation, Labour and Employment, Minister of State for Petroleum, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Development (NNPC), and Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, who serves as the secretary.

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Terms of reference include developing a clear Economic Sustainability Plan in response to challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic; Identify fiscal measures for enhancing distributable oil and gas revenue, increasing non-oil revenues and reducing non- essential spending, towards securing sufficient resources to fund the plan.

It is also proposed to fast track the establishment of a private sector driven national carrier to generate revenue and contrib ute to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while creating activity in the wider economy for sup pliers, importers, exporters and manufacturers.

The committee took a holistic view of the aviation sector with plans to save existing aviation industry organisations and jobs, through a targeted stimulus package and fast track the establishment of a private sector driven national carrier.

The guiding principle is to strengthen the aviation sector so that it survives and creates job opportunities and supports general economic activity including transport logistics.

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The entire scope of work includes extension of grant support including payroll support to the aviation industry including airlines, handlers, caterers and related services.

Others are, working out single digit soft loans with long term repayment plan, deferred.

 

Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika

Provision of single digit soft loans, with long term repayment plan payment of taxes and filing dates, ensure the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) from airline tickets as approved by Federal Executive Council (FEC), provision of COVID-19 tests for all passengers and crew and waiver of airport rent fees to airport operators for the duration of the lockdown plus one month.

Consequently, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has been cleared to begin processes for establishment of private sector driven national carrier.

The entire cost of the projects for revival of the aviation sector including the establishment of a private sector driven national carrier would gulp N27 billion. The entire project has March 2021 time line to be supervised by the Ministry of Aviation. The debate for national carrier for Nigeria will never go away depending on the side or position one takes.

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It is a position of naysayers and optimists. It would be recalled that Sirika on his verified Twitter handle, @ hadisirika, in February 2020, said: “The new approved Aviation Roadmap is on course,” adding, “we had investor conference yesterday as promised.”

He disclosed that bidders had been shortlisted, stressing that the remaining part of the road, which includes national carrier and Aerospace University is running with already business cases.

To show the seriousness of floating a national carrier, there are indications that Nigeria may have picked Egypt Air consortium and Ethiopian Airlines to set up aviation leasing company as part of government plan to overhaul the country’s aviation sector.

Wole Shadare