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Nigeria losing over $77 million per month due to airspace shut down

Nigeria is enduring massive financial losses due to the suspension of international flights following the Covid-19 pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: A FAAN (Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria) sign with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protective measures is seen at the domestic wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport during preparation ahead of the reopening of the airport f
Afolabi SotundeREUTERS

Prior to the coronavirus, Nigeria's aviation sector brought in some N360 billion ($950 million) a year with more than five million passengers flying into, out of, or through the country. However, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and the government's decision to close Nigerian airspace the aviation industry in the country has been severely hit, with Nigeria suffering an estimated average loss of N30 billion ($77 million) for each month with international flights suspended, based on the complete lack of earnings from the sector.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in a statement released in May calling for more help from the government for the sector, the effect on the aviation industry in Nigeria could put at risk as much as $900 million of GDP, along with the loss of 124,000 to 139,500 jobs. The IATA said passenger traffic losses were estimated at between 4.7 million and 5.32 million.

IATA encourages flights resumption with alternative measures:

The IATA is urging Nigeria and other African nations to find alternative procedures to the passengers' quarantine on arrival in order to revive their economies and allow international flights to get back into the skies. To ensure the safety, all airports should have precautionary measures to prevent transmitting the infection among passengers.

Last week some airlines demonstrated their willingness to fly to Nigeria provided the government allowed re-opening of international airports and ignored the 14-day quarantine procedure.

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Around 80% of travelers are not willing to travel to countries where quarantine measures are mandatory, explaining the on-going problems in the aviation industry as quarantine measures are imposed by governments in more than 36 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

So many jobs hinge on flights resumption:

IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Muhammad Albakri, said it is vital for AME governments to find alternatives to these quarantine measures as the livelihood of millions depends on how well the aviation sector is doing: “AME has the highest number of countries in the world with government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers. The region is effectively in complete lockdown with the travel and tourism sector shuttered. This is detrimental in a region where 8.6 million people depend on aviation for their livelihoods," he noted.

IATA is proposing some safety measures airlines and airports can adapt to restart flights without putting passengers' safety at risk including discouraging those passengers experiencing symptoms from traveling, meanwhile calling on airlines to show some flexibility regarding modifying their flight time.