AN AIRLINE owned by the Akwa-Ibom State government, Ibom Air, has opposed the decision of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to suspend flight operations in the country.
The airline operators had announced plans to suspend flight operations due to the rising cost of aviation fuel.
However, in a statement released on Saturday, the management of Ibom Air faulted the plan.
“Ibom Air acknowledges the existential threat that these runaway fuel price increases pose for the air transport industry in Nigeria. We agree that this out-of-control situation is simply unsustainable.
“However, every airline has its unique business model and pressures. We believe that in spite of the escalating fuel prices, airlines volunteering to stop operations would rather exacerbate an already bad situation,” the statement said.
The airline also noted that it had obligations to passengers whose flights had been booked in advance.
It added that being the only airline serving Akwa-Ibom, suspending flight operations would cut off access by air into and out of the state.
Ibom Air therefore declared that it would not suspend flights by Monday, May 9.
“In view of the foregoing facts, Ibom Air had respectfully disagreed with the decision of AON to suspend flight operations on Monday, May 9, 2022. Ibom Air cannot in the circumstance volunteer to stop operating and will continue normal operations on Monday, May 9, 2022 and beyond,” the statement said.
The AON had announced plans to discontinue flight operations from Monday, May 9, owing to the high cost of aviation fuel.
The association disclosed the plan in a letter addressed to the Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika and endorsed by chief executives of domestic airlines, including Ibom Air.
But in the statement by the Ibom Air on Saturday, the airline said its reported endorsement of the plan was based on its active membership of the AON.
“Ibom Air’s inclusion as ‘signatory’ to the statement released by AON must have derived from its active and committed membership of the AON,” the statement added.
The airline management, however, noted that it would actively participate in all efforts to resolve problems arising from the increase in the cost of aviation fuel.