COVID-19 : AON Asks FG To Restrict Travel Into Nigeria To Two Entry Points
…Begs FG To Assist Airlines To Overcome COVID-19
…To Bar foreign nationals of
As the deadly Coronavirus continues to spread with deaths recorded, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps by immediately announcing a comprehensive travel restriction to only two entry points for Nigerian travelers coming into the country.
The AON also asked the Federal Government to also restrict foreign nationals of countries that have been confirmed to have over 100 cases of the Coronavirus also known as COVID-19.
The Chairman of AON, Capt. Nogie Megisson made the call today following a strategic response meeting held between the managements of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigeria’s Representative to ICAO, members of Port Health and Chief Executives of Airlines and Helicopter operators to develop and implement measures to prevent the influx of the virus into the country as well as curb its spread.
According to him, “Nigeria is about the only country in Africa yet to take a decisive action in putting in place strict measures to stop the inflow of the virus into our shores. We can say for sure that if the situation escalates in Nigeria other countries of the world would not hesitate to stop us from flying into their country. We would like to appeal to Government to stand tall by putting Nigeria first at this time and take an immediate action by restricting travel into Nigeria.”
“May I propose that government should immediately reduce entry points into the country to Lagos and Abuja airports only. This will allow for effective deployment of critical medical support staff and utilization of thermal scanners and other resources as well as promote proper monitoring of those entering the country through our airports by members of the Port Health that are already overstretched,” Meggison added.
The AON Chairman further cited examples of countries in Africa that had taken action including : Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana, Guinea, Angola, Morocco, Chad and Tanzania.
He called for an immediate action to reduce the number of entry points into the country so as to effectively control the influx of people into the country, as AON members are willing to offer their services to distribute travelers around the country from the two entry points.
Furthermore, the AON Chairman called on the Ministry of Aviation to take a cue from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by directing the various agencies under its supervision to immediately put in place and extend critical palliative measures to Nigerian airline operators in order to reduce the burden of colossal loses they have suffered and continue to suffer from the impact of the virus on air travel.
“Just yesterday, March 16, 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a statement acknowledging the adverse impact of the virus on the global and Nigerian economies and announced a moratorium of one year on all principal repayments of intervention loans effective March 1, 2020; reduced interest rates from 9 to 5 percent per annum for one year; and created a N50 billion targeted credit facility to cushion the impact of the virus on businesses,” Meggison declared.
AON also called on the aviation agencies through the Federal Ministry of Aviation to follow the same path by taking action to support domestic airlines that are the drivers of national economy.
Nigerian airlines, Megisson stated are suffering heavily from the impact of the Coronavirus, as the passenger numbers have dropped drastically and that overheads remain the same on many fronts and even increasing significantly on other fronts.
“The agencies should therefore help the airlines by immediately streamlining the over 32 multiple charges given to airlines which are mostly double billing. Government should also bear 100% cost of disinfecting all aircraft for this period and provide thermal scanners and hand sanitizers as well as mobilize more manpower and training of Port Health Personnel at our local airports to encourage more people to travel. “
“What we are asking for is not unprecedented. For instance, in the United Stated of America, airlines are seeking a $50 billion bailout. As part of its response, an Emergency Stimulus Package was passed by the US Senate and House and they reduced interest rates to 0.25%. Also, the bill granted their airlines tax credit for their losses during the Pandemic.
Our government can do the same therefore by granting the above stated reliefs to Nigerian airlines as a way of assisting them during this very difficult time to recover from their losses.