The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said Nigeria will continue to witness a sharp decline in air passengers until the first quarter of 2022.
He said the drop in passengers had caused a huge revenue loss not only to the airlines operating in Nigeria but also to the federal government.
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The minister stated this Monday at the ongoing five-day public hearing on the consideration of 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper in Abuja.
The hearing was organized by the Senate joint committee on Finance and National Planning.
Responding to a question on why the overhead of the agencies under his supervision should not be withdrawn to fund the national budget, the minister said the aviation sector was among the worst-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said aviation was the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy before the outbreak of coronavirus.
“Unfortunately, COVID came and we shut down,” Sirika told the Senate panel.
“Therefore, we were hugely impacted by the COVID and with this COVID, I think until quarter four of 2021 and perhaps quarter one of 2022, we will continue to see sharp decline in passengers and that is directly proportional to the revenue that we collect, because people’s confidence has to be raised.
“So, we are in a difficult and challenging time and we do not have solutions to it even as advanced countries are spending huge amounts of money to support civil aviation businesses,” he said.
The minister explained that the federal government introduced concessions for Abuja, Lagos Kano and Port Harcourt airports to improve revenue generation. “We are very sure that when we do that we will improve the revenue of the nation.”