The Federal Government has said it will soon commence the disbursement of the ₦5 billion bailout it approved for the operators in the aviation sector.

Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika disclosed this on Monday at the opening of a three-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Aviation on six executive bills.

The essence of the bills is to address the genuine concerns of all the stakeholders in the aviation industry.

The minister said the airline operators would get ₦4bn and other businesses in civil aviation ₦1bn.

“The Federal Government has approved ₦4bn as a bailout for the airlines and ₦1bn for other businesses within civil aviation. We are already putting arrangements for the disbursement and once we start, it would be transparently done,” he said.

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The committee chairman, Senator Smart Adeyemi, said the ₦4bn bailout for the airline operators was too meagre to make any impact and urged the government to shore up its support.

He said though there might be an argument that the airline business is a private one, it is centred on safety.

“The ₦4bn approved for the airline operators is too small going by what is happening globally in the aviation sector.

“If we really want to keep the airline operators in the business, and we don’t want them to close shops and go home, the federal government should shore up the amount it wanted to give to the airline operators.

“The minister should still extend our demands to the executive council and see how the CBN could come in in that regard,” Adeyemi said.

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He also noted that the aviation industry was the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and “therefore needs all the support possible to resuscitate the industry.

Meanwhile, the aviation minister disclosed that the airline operators are indebted to the federal government to the tune of $6.99 million and ₦19.36 billion.

“We have concerns and they are very genuine. NCAA operates on a cost-recovery basis. They (airline operators) are owing us $6,993,234 and ₦19, 365,374.

“These are monies we get from tickets and they ought to be remitting this money so that we can train more inspectors and keep the industry safe,” Sirika added.

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