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N5b aviation bailout: FG, NASS disagree

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THE Senate has  rejected the plan by the federal government to give N5billion bailout to the operators of the aviation sector following the losses. The sector suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  But the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, disclosed that the federal government would soon start the disbursement of the N5bn bailout it approved for the operators of the sector.

  According to the minister, airline operators would get N4billion while other businesses in the aviation sector would be given N1billion.

  “The federal government has approved N4billion as bailout for the airlines and N1billion for other businesses within the civil aviation. We are already putting arrangements for the disbursement in place and once we start, it would be transparently done,” he said.

  However, Senate Committee Chairman on Aviation, Smart Adeyemi, said the N4billion would not be enough to keep the airline operators in business.

  According to Adeyemi, the N4billion approved for the airline operators was too small, going by what was happening globally in the aviation sector.

  “If we really want to keep the airline operators in business, and we don’t want them to close shops and go home, the Federal government should shore up the amount. If you want to keep the airlines in business and you don’t want them to start cutting corners, there is need to look at the airlines with a view to giving them substantive support,” he said.

  Responding to Adeyemi’s submissions, the minister admitted that the amount was small but added that the National Assembly would need to play a crucial role to increase the amount approved.

  Reacting to the House of Representatives’ suspension of the proposed concession of four airports by the Aviation Ministry, Sirika said the action was taken in error.

  According to him, House Committee took the action because he was absent at the budget defence session.

  It will be recalled that Senator Adeyemi, had at the opening of a three-day public hearing on the six executive bills meant to reorganise the civil aviation agencies in the country, made a case for bailout for the sector.

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