As domestic flights resume today after over three months of grounding the air travel industry, the Federal Government says it will give out loans to airlines, aviation handling companies and other operators in the sector at five per cent interest rate and to be assessed in 2021.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, during a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja, said the facility was being worked out by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Airline Operators of Nigeria, and other industry players had recently called for the government’s intervention in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which has adversely affected global economy.
The International Air Transport Association had said the global airline industry lost over $800bn to the pandemic which led to the closure of airports for commercial flights.
At the briefing, Sirika also said refreshments would no longer be served passengers during a flight, adding that the ban to suspend in-flight food service was part of efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
According to the minister, President Muhammadu Buhari gave an approval stopping all aides of public office holders and other very important personalities from gaining entry into airport terminals.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has approved and this is a very serious matter for us, that hitherto big men, especially military men, ministers, members of the national assembly, governors and the judiciary are culprits.
“They have all these their personal assistants, special assistants, who are not travelling and they insist on taking them inside up to the aircraft.
“This will not be allowed; it will not be permitted and they will be stopped,” he said.
Sirika also stated that any passenger who failed to wear a face mask would be denied boarding as commercial activities resume today beginning with Abuja and Lagos airports.
The minister also said the last cabin row in every aircraft would be reserved as isolation centre in case any passenger exhibits COVID-19 symptoms.
“For this domestic operation, there will be no food. No food will be given to reduce contamination level and we will allow you to come with your mask.
“Like the managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, had said the other day, we see it as your private thing. So it is you bring your mask, they don’t have to be the fancy ones,” Sirika said.