FIVE Nigerian airlines have announced their intention to disrupt domestic passenger flights due to the scarcity of aviation fuel.
In separate statements, the airlines – Dana Air, Air Peace, Arik Air, Ibom Air and United Nigeria Airlines – stated the fuel presently sells for an average of N600 per litre.
Arik Air, in an email statement titled, ‘Scarcity of Jet A1’ and issued on March 9, said the fuel problem was having a serious impact on its operations, causing most of its flights for March 8 to be delayed.
The statement read, “Nigerian airlines are currently experiencing an acute scarcity of Jet Al, otherwise known as jet fuel, and this situation is having a serious impact on our operations. The commodity is not readily available across the country, and where available, it goes for between N590 and N625 per litre.
“On Tuesday, March 8, 2022, we had to delay most of our flights across the network, while a few others were cancelled. There is no certainty as to what the situation will be in the coming days.”
Similarly, Air Peace, earlier on Wednesday, complained of the same problem, and informed passengers of possible flight disruptions.
The airline said, “Air Peace and other Nigerian airlines, have, for a while now, been facing the challenge of jet fuel scarcity. We have pushed so far to minimise the effect of the situation on our esteemed passengers’ travel plans to date.
“But, unfortunately, the fuel scarcity is starting to seriously impact our operations as we are likely going to experience flight disruptions today and in the coming days until the situation abates.”
Dana Air, Ibom Air and United Nigeria Airlines offered apologies in their various statements as they also attributed flight delays and cancellations to the scarcity of fuel.
Dana cancels Abuja flight
Checks on Wednesday by The ICIR on Flightradar24, a global flight tracking service, showed that Dana Air cancelled a 9J 357 flight bound for Abuja by 5:55 pm.
But an Air Peace P47344 flight bound for Abuja was scheduled for 6:10 pm at the Lagos Airport. More checks showed an Air Peace P47183 flight that took off from Calabar, and was scheduled to arrive the Lagos Airport by 6:50 pm.
Bookings on Airk Air and Air Peace sites were still ongoing.
Checks by The ICIR on Arik Air website showed that flights for Friday, March 11 were sold out, especially business class tickets on Lagos-Abuja routes.
Tickets for Premium for the 2.40 pm flight from Lagos-Abuja had two seats left.
On Friday, March 11, Air Peace 6:30 am flight on Economy Non-Flexi Domestic was sold out, as well as the one on Premium Economy Domestic ticket. It was the same situation on the Lagos-Abuja route.
An aircraft engineer and Chief Executive of 7 Stars Global Hangar, Isaac Balami, said the development required swift attention by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Balami said, “This is a national security issue. As at Monday, we were buying Jet A1 in Lagos for N465 and in Kano for N495 and within 24 hours, in Kano they are now buying for N607 and in Lagos N597. How can the airlines survive? This is a national emergency issue and a national security issue. We need to have a rethink.
“I remember the then group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) told us that Kaduna and Warri refineries can produce JetA1 at N50 per litre.”
He stressed that even the hike in airfares cannot pay for the airline’s expenses.
“We have airlines with 30 aircraft and only seven are flying. So many cannot pay for their C-checks. It is high time we saw it as a national emergency. If aviation goes down, it will affect all parts of the country and I am calling for a presidential intervention,” he added.
Balami applauded the airlines for keeping their head high through the tide.
Six Nigerian airlines – Air Peace, Azman Air, United Nigeria Airline, Arik Air, Aero Contractors and Max Air – have signed a pact, tagged the ‘Spring Alliance’, to mutually support one another’s operations and improve service delivery for their clients.