The normalization is coming. Lufthansa will fly into Abuja and Port Harcourt from June 7, 2020. But the biggest news is the grounding of Flair Aviation, a foreign carrier, by the Nigerian aviation regulator for flouting the “no flight” rules when not on humanitarian services: “COVID-19: Flair Aviation, a UK company, was given approval for humanitarian operations but regrettably, we caught them conducting commercial flights. This is callous! The craft is impounded, the crew being interrogated. There shall be maximum penalty. Wrong time to try our resolve,” Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, wrote on Twitter.
The Federal Government of Nigeria announced on Sunday that a British airline company, Flair Aviation, has been grounded for flouting the “no flight” rule. The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this on Twitter, explaining that the company was only authorized to operate humanitarian services but went on a commercial business.
“COVID-19 Flair Aviation, a UK company, was given approval for humanitarian operations but regrettably, we caught them conducting commercial flights. This is callous! The craft is impounded, the crew being interrogated. There shall be maximum penalty. Wrong time to try our resolve,” Sirika wrote on Twitter.
It could be recalled that the Federal Government had earlier this month, extended the “no flight” to four weeks, limiting flights to essential services only. The Aviation Minister said the Flair Aviation company would be penalized. However, the development tells of the struggle of the aviation industry to survive the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought it to its knees.
It is extremely surprising that some Nigerians are taking unusual risks to leave the UK, Canada and U.S. to return back to Nigeria. Typically, you would expect the reverse. But Covid-19 is not normal in any dimension. As they always say, there is no place like home!
Meanwhile, CBN and NNPC have promised to support Nigerians returning back to the nation as a result of the pandemic.
“The governor of CBN, very generously and very kindly, agreed; he said the amount I was talking about, over N1 billion because we have over 4,000 Nigerians out there… he said he was ready to explore and share the cost with NNPC. ..And I spoke to the GMD of NNPC and he said he was going to consult. And thanks be to God, today, he got back to me to say he was ready, he was going to meet up with the CBN governor and together, they will fund this portion; a very important portion, the accommodation and feeding of evacuees.”
User: The opportunities are drying up. Nobody wants to stay aboard without pay.
My Response: I think you are 100% correct. It is very surprising that the hope is back home, as least the bills freeze unlike UK and US when they continue to come, job or no job. We may see a repeat of 2009 again where many professionals returned to Africa. I just hope the governments can take advantage and use their skills to help the continent. With this paralysis projected to run for quarters, economically, Africa may be a safer place for many before things normalize again.