The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said that many airlines will not survive the economic crisis that will result as fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Wednesday, Sirika said though the pandemic has affected different sectors of the economy, none could be compared to that of aviation.

He put the loss suffered by the Nigerian aviation industry during COVID-19 at N24billion, saying the loss can never be recovered.

“Certainly in civil aviation, we’re in very difficult moments like everyone else. All of this started because someone travelled. Unfortunately, he came back hone with it and the consequence is what we’ve been going through.

“We are very aware of our responsibilities and the weight attached to this. We are worst hit among all the sectors. Some 17 billion is being lost by the airlines monthly, thanks to COVID-19. The sector is highly regulated and very coordinated and has set standards that must be followed at all times, regardless, because we speak to safety. This is the situation of civil aviation. It is really a pathetic one and I can guarantee you that several airlines won’t come out of this, unfortunately.

“Based on the trend of events prior to COVID-19, the total loss is about N21 billion approximately plus about N3 billion. It is divided in this form: N7 billion for aviation (what they lose in a month), N10 billion for airlines, N4 billion for ground handling, catering, etc., and then the taxation is N3 billion.

“Also, since you’re interested in dollars, what we got from the International Airline Transport Association (IATA), they’ve given us economic impact on Africa’s largest aviation markets. That for Nigeria, lost airline revenue is $994 million and in terms of employment at risk, 125,370. Loss of contribution to the GDP of the country is $885 million. Now these are IATA figures,” he said.

Amid the economic crisis, Arik Air, one of the leading airlines in the country, hadasked 90 percent of its staff to embark on unpaid leave beginning from May 1. This was in addition to an 80 percent salary cut for the month of April.

Airlines in the country suspended operations after the Federal Government announced a closure of all airports in the country to curb the spread of the coronavirus.