By Babajide Okeowo
Airlines crumbling under the weight of the COVID 19 pandemic can now heave a sigh of relief as the Federal Government has opened access to single-digit interest loans to boost their operation and aid recovery from the pandemic.
The credit line is worth N500 billion and is aside from the N5bn provided for airlines and other allied services provided by the Federal Government.
Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika made this known during a webinar, he expressed confidence that the additional N500bn soft loan at a single-digit rate is open for all operators and other allied service providers.
He also called on African countries to “fully restart the industry and open up economies.”
Sirika said as the lockdown eases, African countries should open up and recommit themselves to the full liberalization of the sector through the implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD) and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
He called on other countries that are yet to implement the same to do so, stressing that the full implementation of the SAATM and YD should not be delayed further.
“Already the pandemic has brought the industry to a near insolvency,” he stated, stressing that the review of concrete measures as contained in SAATM would aid the speedy recovery of the sector.
Mrs. Boni Diabate of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO Africa) noted that the African economy, the tourism, and travel sector could lose at least $50bn and at least 2m direct and indirect jobs as a result of the pandemic.