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Fuel scarcity hits airline operators

Airline operators say flight operations may be grounded in the coming days due to the scarcity of aviation fuel across networks of airports.

Vice-President, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Allen Onyema said, in an interview, that their operations have been impacted negatively, and called on the appropriate authorities to expedite action in addressing the current situation.

Mr Onyema complained that the scarcity of aviation fuel, popularly called Jet A1, has led to many disruptions to flight operations across the nation’s airports this week.

The situation has resulted in many flight delays and cancellations as efforts by airlines to procure the product have been futile.

According to Mr Onyema, the price of Jet A1 has tended to quadruple even when there has been an adequate supply of the commodity.

“Currently, a litre of aviation fuel now goes for N579 in Lagos, Abuja N599 and in Kano N607, and the numbers keep increasing depending on the airports,” he added.

Captain Abdullahi Mahmoud, a chieftain of one of the operators, said a higher price of N1,000.00 was foreseeable if action is not taken quickly by the government.

“All the airlines are going through sleepless nights, there are delays, cancellations because sometimes if you have 20-30 passengers that are travelling right now, you would rather delay the flight, merge with the next one so that they go; you have not even paid for the fuel. Those are the serious crisis we are going through,” Captain Mahmoud said.

The development has resulted in airlines operating two-to-three flights a day instead of their full schedule, depending on the availability of fuel to fly.

Experts describe aviation as a chain, with the cashier in that whole chain being the operators.

if, as they say, the operators don’t fly, the fuel marketers will not sell, and the NCAA does not receive their percentage, ground handling personnel will not get paid.

Apart from domestic operators, international airlines will also experience the difficulties caused by aviation fuel scarcity, if the situation is not addressed.

Reporting by Nosa Aituamen; Editing by Marian Benjamin and Tony Okerafor