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Airline Operators Count Losses, Scale Down Flight Operations

Although, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) have suspended their industrial actions, airlines are however, counting their losses following the fuel scarcity which almost paralysed the nation’s economy for weeks.

Anthony Awunor

Airlines in the country, particularly domestic carriers have decried the untold hardship the fuel scarcity has meted on both air passengers and airlines, saying that dearth of aviation fuel, otherwise known as Jet A1 has drastically increased their cost of operations.

For over three weeks, dearth of petroleum products which was noticeable all over the country equally took its toll on the aviation industry with some of the airlines finding it difficult to operate all their routes effectively.

Consequently, some of the domestic airlines have resorted to scaling down their flight operations so as to cut cost.

Speaking on the fuel scarcity, Chairman Air Peace, Barrister Allen Onyema said that domestic airlines were most affected as it has increased the cost of flight operations.

The airline operator who decried huge sums of money lost by domestic airlines said “The best government can do is to remove customs duty on the import static. This will reduce the minimum the cost of fuel. If the product were available nobody will complain but with the circumstances surrounding the supply of fuel and the payment if subsidy by government it is a huge scam. Government should ever never submit to this blackmail. The target is the incoming government”

“The price of aviation fuel has not been stable, a few months ago it was about N96 per litre , we at our airline using the right system bought the commodity for N100 and now we are buying aviation fuel at N190 to about N200 per litre. Before the new incident it was N130 at the most, but now, it is very high. Airlines are not making any gain, we just want to keep the business . The scarcity of aviation fuel is impacting negatively into our operations, airlines are paying huge costs, the economy is bringing to a halt”, Onyema added .

The Peace Airline boss added “All the government should do is to remove customs import duty on fuel. Airlines are not cutting flights, because there is no fuel. Airlines are losing millions daily due to the impact of scarcity. The subsidy should be removed. All government should do is to waive import duty on fuel to make the product available at a cheaper rate without the government giving any money. Buhari administration should not succumb to the blackmail by fuel marketers”

Similarly, Arik Air had few weeks ago scaled down flights following an estimated US$9 million loss due to lack of Jet A1.

The airline said the scarcity of aviation fuel has made it scale down 20 per cent of its operations out of over 100 flights daily and alternatively fly to neighbouring West and Central African countries to source to aviation fuel at high rate to sustain its operations.

Another domestic airline, Aero Contractor said at the weekend that the airline will not be able to operate 80% of its domestic flights in the meantime due to the general scarcity of aviation fuel (Jet A1) in the country.

In the last few weeks, the supply of aviation fuel has been very irregular, which has compelled the airline to cancel some flights.

The airline management in a press statement issued at the weekend said,: “We apologize to our esteemed customers for the inconvenience they may have been experiencing due to flight delays and cancellations caused by the scarcity of aviation fuel”.

“We urge our customers to always check our website at www.flyaero. com or contact the call centre agent on 016284140 to affirm if their scheduled flight will operate”.

“Aero regrets any inconvenience the changes will cause. All measures are being made to ameliorate the situation and revert to her regular flight schedule. We hope that the situation improves very soon”, the statement concluded.

Since last week, most airline passengers have been facing untold hardship due to either flight delays or outright cancellations, arising from fuel scarcity at the local wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport MMA2, Lagos.

Meanwhile, the Major Oil marketers association of Nigeria (MOMAN) reached an agreement on Monday with the Federal Government to begin lifting of petroleum products across the country.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on petroleum resources, Magnus Abe who made this known yesterday said that the resolution was reached after a meeting between the committee he heads; MOMAN; Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the economy Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,; Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Joseph Dawha and major stakeholders in the oil and gas sector.

Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) have also suspended their industrial actions.

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