By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCOe) Plc, Mrs Tokunbo Fagbemi, has said the N70 million given to her company by the federal government is not enough when compared with what the firm lost to the COVID-19-induced lockdown.
The government had approved N5 billion bailout for the aviation sector in the country to cushion the effects of the pandemic. For more than six months, the nation’s airspace was shut down to control the spread of the virus in the country.
During this period, airlines were not allowed to operate except for essential services, including the supply of medical equipment and others.
Many operators incurred losses and this made them to appeal to the federal government for financial assistance and the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, pushed for a bailout for them.
Mrs Fagbemi, while speaking in Lagos, confirmed the receipt of N70 million by her firm from the N5 billion fund, but said more was needed.
“Yes, we were given about N70 million but if you look at how much we lost, N70 million it is not much but anything that is given is something that we are grateful for because it is better to have something than to have nothing.
“Like Oliver Twist, as we are thanking the Ministry and the federal government, CBN and the Minister of Finance, we are also hopeful that some more, as we have been told, will be given to the ground handling companies,” she said.
Mrs Fagbemi also urged the federal government to consider tax exemption on duties for handling equipment, noting that this would go a long way to cushion the effects of the pandemic on operators.
According to her, if waivers were given by the government on aircraft spare parts, ground support equipment should also enjoy the same from the government.
“At the end of the day, these are ground support equipment that supports and handle the aircraft. So, if the aircraft is given zero duty, why should we also not enjoy that kind of rebate?
“We will be happy if that is given [because] it will go a long way to help us,” she submitted.
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