Airlines in Nigeria are losing N17bn every month since the country closed its airspace and airports as part of measures to curtail the spread of Coronavirus, Hadi Sirika, minister of Aviation, has said.
This is as the Nigerian government announced the extension of the airport closure by another one month, as Covid-19 infection figures continue to rise.
Sirika said the COVID-19 pandemic had hit the nation’s aviation sector badly with the airlines losing about N17bn monthly since their operations were grounded.
The Federal Government had five weeks ago closed the airports to local and international flights following the outbreak of coronavirus.
Sirika disclosed this at the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja, according to a statement made available to Financial Street on Wednesday.
He said, “We are in very difficult moments like everyone else. All of this started because someone travelled and unfortunately came back home with it and the consequence is what we’ve been going through.
“We are the worst hit, than any other sector. Some N17bn monthly is being lost by the airlines, no thanks to COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, Boss Mustapha, chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, has said airports in the country would remain closed for another four weeks.
Mustapha, who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, announced this at the daily media briefing of the committee in Abuja on Wednesday.
The extension of the airports’ closure for another one month became necessary after the government received advice from experts, he said.
Nigeria’s Covid-19 cases reached 2,950 with 98 deaths on Tuesday. Patients’ recovery from the virus slowed at 481, leaving 2,371 active cases, amidst concerns that the NCDC capacity to handle the pandemic was waning.
There were 148 new cases on Tuesday.