By Chinelo Obogo
Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has said that the current JetA1, forex scarcity and the closure of domestic runway (18L) at Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, has crippled their ability to continue operations.
In a statement from its spokesperson, Obiora Okonkwo, the AON said the continuous rise in the price of aviation fuel, its epileptic and unpredictable supply at several airports across the country, is responsible for flight delays and cancellations.
The body called on the Federal Government to look critically at the issues raised in their statement as they affect scarcity and cost of aviation fuel and foreign exchange so as to find ways of ameliorating the problems that are likely to cause a total shutdown of the sector.
“The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) would like to notify the general public that the JetA1 crisis which began in late February and deteriorated further through the months of March to May, has further worsen and currently threatening the ability of airlines to continue operations. The price of JetA1 rose suddenly from N200 in December 2021 to over N400 per litre in February. Today the price has skyrocketed to over N800 per litre.
“On top of the continuous rise in the price of Aviation fuel, supply is at best epileptic and unpredictable at several airports across the country there by causing flight delays, and even cancellations, as airlines queue for fuel at airports across the country.
“Added to the already difficult situation, is the high cost and scarcity of foreign exchange. It is pertinent to note that airlines carry out most of their activities in US dollars which today sells for N630 to $1; and is sadly also, in short supply. To say the least, airlines are in a ‘life and death’ struggle to secure the foreign exchange that they urgently need to acquire spare parts to ensure the regular routine and scheduled maintenance of aircraft. This is a major influence on how quickly a grounded aircraft can be fixed and restored for flight operations, which impacts greatly on the reliability of schedules, growth of the industry and economic growth and sustainability,” AON said.
The body also said the decision taken by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at very short notice to airlines has further crippled their operations by causing unsustainable additional operating costs and severely inconveniencing the airlines and passengers.