COVID-19: FG Approves N5bn Bailout Funds For Airline Operators, Others

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika

 

The Federal Government has approved the sum of N5billion as a bailout for airline operators and other business owners in the aviation sector to cushion the effects of COVID-19 on the country’s aviation industry.

The announcement was made on Monday by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The Minister said the sum of N4billion has been approved as a bailout for airline operators and an additional N1billion for other business owners in the aviation sector.

READ ALSO: Our Critical Documents Are Safe, NPA Boss Reacts After Attack On Headquarters

Sirika says the government’s decision to offer the bailout is based on recognition of the pivotal role of the aviation sector to the Nigerian economy.

The Minister made the announcement when he appeared at the Senate for a public hearing in respect of the repeal and the reenactment of the laws establishing the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

The announcement by the Minister comes after the Senate Committee on Aviation called on the Federal government to bail out airlines to cushion the effect of COVID-19.

However, the Chairman of the Senate committee on aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi says the amount for the proposed bailout is inadequate for airlines who are battling to survive.

UAE To Begin Issuance Of Visa To Nigerians From October 8 — FG

A file photo of the Minister of Aviation. Photo: [email protected]

 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has confirmed that it would begin the issuance of visas to Nigerians from Thursday, October 8, 2020.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced this on Tuesday.

“UAE confirmed that they will begin issuance of Visas from the 8th of October,  2020. Travelers to have a return ticket, hotel booking, negative PCR result & Health insurance (similar to Schengen requirement). Health insurance can be paid through travel agents/airline,” the Minister tweeted.

 

Sirika had earlier on September 30 announced that the UAE had written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, a development that made the Federal Government lift the ban it had earlier placed on Emirates Airlines.

“UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria,” the minister had tweeted.

Enugu Airport Set To Reopen On Sunday – Sirika

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, spoke to reporters after landing at the Enugu Airport on August 29, 2020.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, spoke to reporters after landing at the Enugu Airport on August 29, 2020.

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Saturday landed at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

It was the airport’s first aircraft landing since the Federal Government shut it down for rehabilitation work in August 2019.

According to Mr Sirika, plans are in top gear for the official handing over of the airport on Sunday, even as work continues at the arrival and departure hall sections.

“We are ready for tomorrow, the 30th,” Me Sirika said. “To God be the glory. We landed on the runway. The remaining news will be tomorrow.

“But I am glad that I am here and I am glad that we were able, also again, to achieve it on time and on budget.”

Nigeria To Resume International Flights On August 29

 

Nigeria will resume international flight operations on August 29, the Federal Government has announced.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made the announcement on Monday in Abuja at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

“We are very glad today to announce that international flights will resume from August 29, 2020,” he said.

Sirika added, “However, what we have become used to – physical distancing, wearing of masks, washing of hands, temperature taking, etc will continue.”

He explained that the process for the resumption of international flights in the country would be similar to that of the domestic flight resumption.

According to the minister, the resumption will commence on Saturday next week at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He thanked Nigerians for their patience while the ban on international flights was enforced and gave an assurance that the protocols and procedures for resumption would be announced in due course.

“Just like we did with the domestic (flights resumption), it will start with Lagos and Abuja. The protocols, procedures, and processes, will be announced in due course.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announces the date for resumption of international flights at the PTF briefing in Abuja on August 17, 2020.

 

“So, all protocols exist, and they will continue alongside the opening of these airports,” said Sirika.

He explained, “In the beginning, there will be four flights into Lagos and four flights into Abuja daily, we will give further details on that in due course.

“It is the Task Force decision, not that of aviation (ministry) … under the leadership of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who is the chairman of PTF.”

The minister also announced the resumption of international flights via his Twitter handle.

House Of Architect Who Demolished Enugu Airport Fence Destroyed

House of Architect John Emejulu was destroyed on August 14, 2020.
House of Architect John Emejulu was destroyed on August 14, 2020.

 

The Enugu State Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA) on demolished a residential building belonging to an architect John Jerry Emejulu, Channels Television can confirm.

Emejulu had earlier demolished part of the Enugu Airport fence claiming ownership of a portion of the land.

The Federal Government, on Thursday, condemned his actions and promised to take punitive actions.

Chairman of ECTDA, Dr. Josef Onoh, who supervised the demolition, denied that it was a reprisal action.

He said his agency obtained a court order to demolish the building after concluding that it was built on a waterway and needed to give way.

The private residence is situated along Eziokwe street, off Nike Lake road, Trans Ekulu, Enugu.

‘Totally Unacceptable’

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Thursday, said Mr Emejulu, accompanied by hundreds of armed thugs and bulldozers, had demolished up to 2km of the Enugu airport fence before the Nigerian Air Force and Police intervened to arrest the situation.

“This is certainly unfortunate, unbecoming,” Sirika said during a visit to the airport on Thursday. “Emejulu has done his best. But in doing his best, he has given the opportunity to government to show how not to wilfully destroy public assets belonging to 200 million people. It’s totally unacceptable.”

House of Architect John Emejulu was destroyed on August 14, 2020.
House of Architect John Emejulu was destroyed on August 14, 2020.

 

Sirika stressed that the airport fence demolition was carried out when President Muhammadu Buhari was devoting large amounts to the nation’s infrastructure, including the Enugu airport, which he noted had been abandoned for decades.

“Without hesitation, Mr President provided the funding” to revive the airport, Sirika said, but a “cantankerous, cranky individual” decided to disrupt the process.

Rubble from the demolished house of Architect John Emejulu.

 

“There is a government in place and it is wrong time to test our resolve,” the Minister said, adding that Mr Emejulu had threatened to destroy more properties within the airport but was only stopped by the swift intervention of security forces.

“I am sure he will regret this,” Sirika said. “And this is an opportunity for the government to show that no one can take the law into his hands and wilfully destroy national assets.

“We will not forgive him. The Chief of Air Staff, the Inspector General of Police and the Director-General of DSS will be directed to do the needful and bring him to book.

“For emphasis, airports are national security assets and we are determined to protect them.”

Enugu Airport Fence Destruction: FG Vows To Prosecute Perpetrator

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika during a visit to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu on August 13, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has vowed to prosecute Architect John Jerry Emejulu who demolished the about 2 kilometer of the ongoing concrete perimeter fence, at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport while claiming ownership of a portion of the land.

Emejulu purportedly stormed the area with a court order in the company of armed security agents destroying the fences and other residential facilities in the area

Speaking to journalists after inspecting the site to ascertain the level of destruction, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, condemned the lawless acts of what he described as a “national security asset” belonging to Nigerians.

“While the procurement (of the Enugu airport rehabilitation) was going on, a certain cantankerous individual by name Arch. J.J. Emejulu came with bulldozers and hundreds of armed thugs and destroyed more than 2km of our fence,” he said.

The Minister, who described the action as unfortunate, unbecoming and unacceptable, said Emejulu’s singular act had given the government the opportunity to show how not to willfully destroy public asset belonging to over 200 million people.

READ ALSO: NBC N5m Fine, ‘A Naked Attempt To Gag The Media’ – Atiku

“It is the wrong time to test our resolve. The individual will certainly be dealt with maximally without recourse. I am sure he will regret doing this and of course, this is also an opportunity for the government to show that no one can take the law into his hands and willfully destroy national asset belonging to 200 million of all of us.

“This will certainly be the end of this kind of recklessness. We will not forgive him. The Chief of Air Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Director-General, DSS, others, will be directed to do the needful and bring him to book so that anybody who would contemplate doing something like this in future will have a rethink.

“We are government in place; we are not a lawless country; we are not in a banana republic, we are in the Federal Republic of Nigeria governed by laws. Certainly, this is not acceptable and I am sure that we are equal to the task of rising in defence of our national asset,” the Minister maintained.

On the completion and delivery of the airport on the 30th of August, the Minister said the date is still sacrosanct.

Meanwhile, the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, was also at the site the previous day to see the damage.

Governor Ugwuanyi thereafter proceeded to the said man’s house who is currently on the run to demand answers.

International Flights: We Will Open When It Is Safe – Sirika

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, addressing reporters in Abuja on July 27, 2020.

 

The Federal Government says it is making efforts to review the ban imposed on international flights in the country.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, revealed this on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja.

He stated that the government was planning to reopen the airports for international flights as soon as possible but would do so at a time considered to be safe.

“Certainly, aviation is the worst hit in this (pandemic). There must be passenger movements, especially international passenger for us to be able to survive… so, we want to open more than you want to open,” the minister said.

He explained, “But this is subject to so many factors and all of the sacrifices the aviation is making is in the interest of the public; in the interest of all of us to stay safe.

“So, therefore, the government will not abdicate its responsibility of ensuring that all of us stay safe. We definitely will open. We will open very soon when everything seems to be okay and is safe.”

 

Sooner Than Later

Sirika lamented that the closure of the airports for international fights has seriously affected the aviation sector as employers were struggling to pay salaries.

He noted that effort towards the resumption of international flights was not just the work of the sector but some Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) have various roles to play.

The minister explained that the purpose of the delay was to identify the best way to ensure that the people were not exposed to the risk of contracting the disease.

He said, “If it is us, we will open yesterday because when we open, the ministry will make more money, we will be able to carry on our activities, we will pay our salaries and provide the service.

“We know that some people are cut away from their families, they are cut away from their businesses but this is an act of God; so please bear with the situation, we are very responsible people and we will open when it is the right time to open and I am sure it will be sooner than later.”

Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika Lists 14 Airports Approved For Resumption

 

The Federal Government of Nigeria has approved 14 airports to restart flight operations after months of closure occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.

These airports were expected to resume operations on Friday, the 24th of July, 2020.

Disclosing this on Sunday, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the Federal Government’s directive authorizes the resumption of domestic operations only, while the resumption of international flights remains on hold.

In a series of tweets on Sunday, the minister noted that ministerial approvals would not be needed in and out of the airports.

He added that the order includes private and charter operations.

According to Sirika, the airports cleared to resume operations include the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos; Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja; Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano; Port Harcourt International Airport, Omaguwa; Sam Mbakwe Aiport, Owerri.

He added that others include; Maiduguri Airport, Maiduguri; Victor Attah Airport, Uyo; Kaduna Airport, Kaduna; Yola Airport, Yola; Margaret Ekpo Airport, Calabar; Sultan Abubakar Aiport, Sokoto; Birnin Kebbi Airport, Kebbi; Yakubu Gowon Aiport, Jos; and Benin Aiport, Benin.

 

International Flights May Resume Before October – Sirika

Air Peace Aircraft Collide At Lagos Airport
A file photo of a Nigerian Airline, Air Peace.

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Tuesday, said international flights in and out of the country may resume before October.

Sirika revealed this in a tweet while dismissing reports the resumption date has been set.

International flights have been suspended in the country since March 23 in a bid to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

 

Domestic flights were also suspended but have since resumed in June as the country tries to roll back coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

“International Flight resumption date is not October,” Sirika said. “NAMA just issued a routine 90 day Notices to Airmen (NOTAM).

“In liaison with Health, Foreign Affairs & PTF COVID-19, we will announce the agreed date, regardless of the ban by Europe, UAE etc. May be earlier than October.”

Enugu Airport Runway Will Be Ready In August, Says Sirika

 

A file photo of the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has assured Nigerians that the rehabilitation work at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport runway Enugu will be completed by August 30.

He made this known on Tuesday during a working visit to ascertain the level of work at the international airport.

Sirika explained that the work progress is currently at the last stage of pavement wearing, thus bringing it up to over 90 percent completion.

He also noted that Perimeter fencing, roads, and air landing systems will all be ready to enable a 24-hour operation when it reopens again.

The Minister appreciated the South-East Governors, particularly the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for their efforts and assistance in the job.

Be At Airport 90 Minutes Before Departure, FG Tells Travellers

(File Photo) The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika gives a press conference during a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing.

 

The Federal Government has asked air travellers to report at the airport at least 90 minutes before their departure time.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made this call on Monday via Twitter.

Sirika also appealed to air travellers to endeavour to check-in online.

“My colleagues and I have reviewed passenger facilitation at our airports, consequently I am happy to announce that, henceforth travellers are to arrive one hour and a half before their departure time for domestic flights,” the tweet read.

This development comes a month after the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) advised passengers to get to the airport at least three hours before departure due to safety checks.

Airport operations were suspended in March to contain the spread of COVID-19 across the country.

READ ALSO: FG Releases Guidelines For Safe Reopening Of Schools After COVID-19 Pandemic Closures

On July 1, Sirika announced that the Abuja and Lagos airports will resume on July 8, while Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Maiduguri airports will reopen on July 11.

Other airports are expected to reopen on Wednesday 15 July while the resumption date for international flights will be announced later.

Aviation Minister Lists Conditions For Reopening Of Domestic Flights

A file photo of the Minister of Aviation. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika on Monday listed some conditions which are currently being considered before the final reopening of domestic flights following weeks of lockdown.

Sirika listed the conditions during the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.

He said following the directive of the Federal Government for domestic flights to prepare to resume operations June 21, technical and health factors will be considered.

READ ALSO: Domestic Flights May Resume June 21 – FG

“Regarding the tentative date for reopening of domestic flights from 21st of June, the explanation is that, this is an industry that is highly regulated, it borders on safety and efficiency.

“On the technical aspect, there are aircraft that have been parked for a few months and not been run. We want to ensure that between now and that time, these aeroplanes are good and safe to fly.

“The maintenance for aircraft is either usage or calendar time and there are protocols to the use of such aircraft. So, the airline industry needs to be able to bring those machines to safe operations,” he said.

Sirika added that on the issue of flight crews and carrier crew, efforts are being made to ensure that they get their licence valid again for operations.

He noted further that the medical aspect also needs to be considered as every pilot has a licence which must state that he is fit and able to carry out operations.

According to the Aviation Minister, even the airport needs to be prepared to adopt the new way of life which must reflect social distancing.

“Even the airport where all of these activities will be done needs to be prepared to get ready to accept this new way of air travel,” Sirika said.

The Minister concluded that, although the aviation sector is the worst hit by the COVID-19 lockdown, caution must be taken to ensure reopening in a very orderly and organised manner, “so that we will achieve the intent and purpose of air travel which is safety, efficiency and security.”