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COVID19: Airline operators call for restriction of travel into Nigeria

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The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the Federal Government to take urgent steps by immediately announcing a comprehensive travel restriction to only two entry points for Nigerian travelers coming into the country.

It also wants foreign nationals of countries that have been confirmed to have over 100 cases of the COVID19 Virus popularly known as Corona Virus to be restricted 

The call was made by Capt Nogie Megison, Chairman Airline Operators of Nigeria AON on the heels of a strategic response meeting held between the Managements of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Nigeria’s Representative to ICAO, members of Port Health and Chief Executives of Airlines and Helicopter operators to develop and implement measures to prevent the influx of the virus into the country as well as curb its spread.

“Nigeria is about the only country in Africa yet to take decisive action in putting in place strict measures to stop the inflow of the virus into our shores. We can say for sure that if the situation escalates in Nigeria other countries of the world would not hesitate to stop us from flying into their country. We would like to appeal to Government to stand tall by putting Nigeria first at this time and take immediate action by restricting travel into Nigeria,” stressed Capt. Nogie Meggison, Chairman, AON.

“May I propose that the Government should immediately reduce entry points into the country to Lagos and Abuja airports only. This will allow for effective deployment of critical medical support staff and utilization of thermal scanners and other resources as well as promote proper monitoring of those entering the country through our airports by members of the Port Health that are already overstretched,” Meggison added.The AON Chairman went further to cite examples of countries in Africa that had taken action including Kenya, Rwanda, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana, Guinea, Angola, Morocco, Chad and Tanzania. 
He, therefore, called for immediate action to reduce the number of entry points into the country so as to be able to effectively control the influx of people into the country as AON members are willing to offer their services to distribute travellers around the country from the two entry points.

AON Chairman called on the Ministry of Aviation to take a cue from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by directing the various Agencies under its supervision to immediately put in place and extend critical palliative measures to Nigerian airline operators in order to reduce the burden of colossal lose they have suffered and continue to suffer from the impact of the virus on air travel.    

“Just yesterday, March 16, 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued a statement acknowledging the adverse impact of the virus on the global and Nigerian economies and announced a moratorium of one year on all principal repayments of intervention loans effective March 1, 2020; reduced interest rates from 9 to 5 per cent per annum for one year; and created a N50 billion targeted credit facility to cushion the impact of the virus on businesses,” Capt. Nogie Meggison declared.

He also called on the Aviation Agencies through the Federal Ministry of Aviation to follow the same path by taking action to support Domestic Airlines that are the drivers of our national economy.

“Nigerian airlines are suffering heavily from the impact of the Corona Virus issue as the passenger numbers have dropped drastically and our overheads remain the same on many fronts and even increasing significantly on other fronts. Like we all know Nigerian airlines trade-in Naira but we do our business in Dollars and the Naira has come under pressure since the Corona Virus pandemic”.

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