Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has called on the Federal Government to lift the ban on domestic flights to allow local businesses to thrive.
Ayade while inspecting the ongoing asphalting of the dualised Odukpani-Calabar highway in the state on Sunday told journalists that the ban on domestic flights for the next four weeks will deal a great blow on local businesses and affect the nation’s economy negatively.
“We want to plead with Mr President to kindly review the option of keeping the Nigerian airways closed for another four weeks.
“Hotels are dying and laying off workers. Food suppliers and vendors are laying off workers. An additional four weeks will be a great blow and it will be difficult for some businesses to survive.
“As we continue to lock the domestic airports for another four weeks, what we are going to have in terms of economic loss, and in terms of social delinquency, the associated moral and social tension that will come with it, will be just too huge for the country to bear,” he said.
Ayade said rather than ban domestic flights, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should devise strict guidelines to enable the aviation sector to continue to operate without increasing the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
“The country is awash with massive unemployment. NCDC should come up with a policy to keep our people safe while we let our domestic businesses thrive.
“We can still be safe while allowing the internals of Nigeria to run. We can do so by allowing the domestic airlines to start flying,” he added.
The Federal Government had earlier on May 6 imposed an additional four-week ban on flight operations across the country as a measure to check the spread of COVID-19.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika while making the announcement said the aviation sector was recording huge losses as a result of the lockdown, adding that many airlines would not survive the economic loss as a fallout of COVID-19.