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Private airline operators to refund ₦4bn COVID-19 relief funds

Recall the FG had in 2020, approved the sum of ₦4 billion as a bailout fund to airlines to help the industry survive the impact of COVID-19.

Private airline operators to refund ₦4bn COVID-19 relief funds [BI]

The one-week ultimatum was handed down by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts to all private Airline operators in the country during an investigative hearing on the alleged mismanagement of the COVID-19 intervention funds by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government and others who benefited from the funds.

Recall the FG had in 2020, approved the sum of ₦4 billion as a bailout fund to airlines to help the industry survive the impact that came with the COVID-19 lockdown on their operations.

The approval was confirmed by thea former aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, who also added that another ₦1 billion was provided for aviation agencies to enable them carry out other administrative functions like salary payments as the period almost shut down activities in the industry.

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A breakdown of the funds disbursement revealed that seven scheduled operators, comprising Dana, Overland, Air Peace, Azman, Aero, Arik, and Max Air, received the sum of ₦2.84 billion while 20 non-scheduled operators, including cargo and private jet services, were allocated the sum of ₦949,909,000.

Responding, some of the affected airlines like Azman Airlines admitted to receiving ₦367.9 million. Represented by its marketing manager, Odum Chizoba Uju, the operator explained that the funds were allocated for various operational expenses including aircraft maintenance; spare parts, fueling, Forex purchasing, and insurance premiums paid.

Speaking also, a representative of Aero Contractor, Abdulmalik Musa agreed the company received ₦217.3 million from the COVID-19 intervention fund.

A motion moved by a member of the committee, Hon. Akiba Bassey and unanimously supported by members agreed that at the expireation of the date given to the airlines to make account of the expenditure, the COVID-19 funds involved should be refunded to the Federation account.

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