Many Nigerian airlines face collapse on the back of huge economic losses to covid-19 pandemic, Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation said on Wednesday as government announced extension of air flight ban by another 4 weeks.
Sirika said the Nigerian aviation is the hard-hit as covid-19 ravages and that monthly losses to the industry is now around N17bn.
“Certainly in civil aviation, we’re in very difficult moments like everyone else…but we are worst hit than any other sector. Some N17bn monthly is being lost by the Airlines to COVID-19,” he said at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Wednesday.
“This is the situation of civil aviation. It is really a pathetic one and I can guarantee you that several airlines won’t come out of this unfortunately.”
The concerns come as the federal government extended current ban on all flights for another four weeks as the country marks 100 days of covid-19 scourge.
Speaking on the extended flight ban, Sirika said government will give priority to air safety compliance measures, and training of cabin crew members as preparatory measure towards the resumption of flight operations within four weeks.
The Minister also noted that safety of the airplanes which have been parked for some time will be ascertained by the official regulatory body before the commencement of flight operations in four weeks.
“To open up and start business as usual, there are safety issues and concerns. Those airplanes have been kept, and when we see going to bring them back into service, we will ensure their worthiness.
“For the flight crew, there are certain standards they must conform to, like ensuring they are up to date with their licensing. Their medical health and proficiency in order to conduct a very dare flight must be ascertained.
“There are also other issues like the state safety programmes that must be adhered to and there are other safety protocols for the COVID-19 which must be adhered to which include the social and physical distancing, use of masks, washing of hands.
Federal government has extended the current ban on all flights for another four weeks as the country marked 100 days of battling covid-19 scourge in the country Wednesday.
Secretary to the government of the Federation, SGF and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on the Coronavirus pandemic, Boss Mustapha, wwho confirmed the extended flight ban earlier at the briefing said the decision was based on experts’ advice and available data.
“We have assessed the situation in the aviation industry and have come to the conclusion that given the facts available to us and based on the advice of experts, the ban on all flights will be extended for an additional four weeks,” assuring that government would give priority to air safety compliance measures, as well as training of cabin crew members in preparation to the resumption of flight operations within four weeks.
Mustapha said government is disturbed by the increasing rates of infections amongst Frontline health workers handling the COVID-19 pandemic, pledging renewed efforts at training frontline workers about the infectious nature of the virus and management.
He stated that the overall assessment of compliance with the measures and outcomes of modelling developed, point in the direction of danger ahead.
He urged personal discipline, increased awareness and enforcement and called on community, religious and traditional leaders, trade associations, professional bodies and organizations to take up the challenge and compliment the efforts of government
He noted that the assessment of the ease of lockdown phase, showed that Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the deadliness and the virulent nature of the COVID-19.
“This gives us concerns on the high possibility of increased seeding of the virus to hitherto un-affected persons and populations”
Mustapha also expressed concern over movements of Almajiris to some states and appealed to the Governors to align their plans with the ban imposed by the President.
He also expressed worries over challenges on public transportation, which he said is a major clustering area through which the virus can easily be transmitted, and called on the leadership of various transport unions to properly enlighten their members on the dangers associated with non-adherence to the COVID-19 containment guidelines.
He also announced that the NCDC will be visiting the Kogi and Cross Rivers States to provide support to the State EOCs. This is a giant leap in the dialogue and collaboration process.
“We are also retooling all Federal Medical Institutions as part of the overall support to the States.”
He announced that the PTF has received a boost in the isolation facilities available in Abuja with the completion of the Abuja Thisday Dome, adding that the facility will be inaugurated on Tuesday 12th May, 2020.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said the PTF is sending supporting teams to Sokoto and Katsina for training and capacity building in case management and infection prevention and control in the hospital setting as Covid-19 cases had risen in the States in the last few days.
Ehanire assured that Government is encouraging and supporting States to increase the number of Isolation centres nationwide and expressed appreciation to Corporate Organizations and Philanthropists who have donated Isolation facilities, diagnostic equipment, commodities and sundry supplies relevant to the response efforts to Covid-19 threat.
He reiterated that This Day Dome, which has been purposed by donors, to be a 320 bed Isolation Center with a 10 bed Intensive Care Units which is to be commissioned next week to significantly ease the supply of bed spaces, as well as an incinerator to be installed in Kano.
“While we are striving to increase our testing capacity, we have noted the complaints about turnaround time to get the results of tests conducted. We are doing what we can to resolve them.
National Coordinator of PTF, Sani Aliyu said it is now mandatory for governors to establish a minimum of 300 bed-space isolation centres in their states
He added that governors who are yet to do so must ensure that the centres are completed immediately and be made available for use.
Aliyu stated that the directive has become necessary owing to the fact that some state governors whose states are yet to record positive cases have not complied with the safety measure.
“I want to urge that governors yet to establish isolation facilities to always make sure that they have 300 bed space isolation centre so they can isolate persons that are positive of coronavirus. It is mandatory that this is done to make it appropriate that those with symptoms are isolated,” Aliyu stated.