Air transport is unarguably the fastest and still the safest transportation system anywhere in the world. The sector is one of the most vibrant and critical to any nation’s economy, this explains why it became the hardest hit by the covid-19 pandemics.
The Air transport system contributes to the national Gross Domestic Product(GDP) and therefore critical to economic growth.
In Nigeria, the Aviation Sector, pre-covid, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) contributes about $1.7Billion to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The Covid-19 pandemic like many sectors of the economy has dealt a hard blow on the Aviation sector, probably more than other sectors of the economy, especially during the nation-wide lockdown, where flight operations were grounded and income stalled.
With the easing of lockdown in most parts of the world including Nigeria, many economies including Nigeria’s consider bailing out the sector. In an interview with one of the leading Aviation practitioners in Nigeria conducted by one of the leading Televisions stations in the country (Channels TV), the sum of N4 Billion was said to have been allotted as bailout to the entire sector to which the practitioner said is so paltry and not even enough to purchase some Aircraft engines according to him.
The sector in a bid to stay afloat currently charges massively to the tune of about N100,000 from an initial N30,000 for an hour’s journey.
Asides from the covid 19 pandemic and the need to maintain strict adherence to its protocols, by ensuring passengers do not cluster, other contributory factors such as general inflation have continued to pervade the country’s economic sphere leading to price instability thereby affecting all sectors of the economy, Aviation inclusive.
The downward trend in the value of Naira against Dollars
The continuous downward trend in the value of the naira against the Dollars is also a contributory factor as spare parts and some services are purchased and carried out in Dollars. A Dollar currently exchanges for N500 and the downward trend may continue as long as policies to strengthen the naira is not put in place.
Insecurity on Road Transport System:
The persistent increase in attacks on on-road travelers including adoptions and various killings in the country has generally made road transport unsafe. The subsequent increase in demand for Air transportation as the safest means of transportation, since the rail system is not well connected to all parts of the country brings with it a price hike.
Now, bearing these in mind, shall we say the massive fare increment is justifiable in lieu of post-COVID-19 recovery after the pandemic practically grounded the Aviation sector for more than a month leading to a massive loss in revenue? On the other hand, we could argue that it’s disadvantageous to the sector since it’s capable of discouraging patronage?
The answer should be that the Government put in place enough financial packages in order to bail out the sector from the downturn currently being experienced. This is asides from making a dedicated and coordinated effort at mitigating other factors affecting the health of the economy in general, the Aviation sector inclusive.
For now, the increment appears justifiable logically to continue to keep the sector afloat but logic oftentimes disregards the pocket of the common man.
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