Alhaji Muneer Bankole, the Managing Director of Med-View Airline, during the week appealed to the federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to provide early its intervention plans for airlines in Nigeria, which he said will help sustain the gains and safety already achieved in the industry in the last few years. Bankole in the same breadth advised the federal government to seriously invest in Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in a bid to save foreign exchange for airline operators.
He said government’s palliatives for operating airlines was necessary as a result of the negative impact the dreaded Coronavirus (COVID-19) had on the country’s aviation industry especially the airline sub-sector. Following the outbreak of the virus, the federal government grounded all airline operations in the country. It was one of the ways to contain the spread of the disease.
The Med-View Boss also posited that the aviation industry one of the worst hit, if not the worst by the deadly pandemic. Nigeria Aviation is not however in isolation, all airlines all over the world are also grounded as a result of the pandemic that is ravaging global economies. To enable operators, sustain the successes so far recorded in the sector, he said government needed to give operators palliatives to mitigate the effect of the losses on operations of the airlines. According to him most operators found it difficult to render welfare obligations to their staff, stressing that most are struggling to ensure regular payment of salaries to their workers.
Suggesting what he expects the government to do regarding reopening of the airspace, he urged the government to reopen the airspace for flight operations in the next few weeks, beginning with domestic operations. He decried that the grounding of aircraft for almost two months would have led to Airworthiness Directives (ADs) on them, while corrosions would have increased due to lack of use.
He said, “When you fly 200 hours, there are certain checks you do, when you increase that to 400 hours, there are certain checks you need to do again. Also, when you don’t fly again, you still need to carry out some checks on your aircraft because corrosion will set in and some of the pilots’ licenses would have expired by now. Aviation industry in general demands for a window. You can see the effect the current pandemic has had on aviation industry globally.
The virus, which started from the city of Wuhan in China, spread to the world and disrupted activities within a few months. This will not have happened if not through the air. The airport environment too has changed, while social distancing directive must be complied with. Safety of the frontline workers is very important. Aviation needs palliatives to bring life back to it. 90 per cent of workers are at home now. The government should think very critically about the issues of palliatives to the sector. The industry is dying. The sincerity of what we are saying is that the government should see its palliative as a means of life saving lives, fastest means of bringing back economy to live and improve the lives of everybody.”