DANA Air and Overland Airways have joined Ibom Air to oppose the decision of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to suspend flight operations from tomorrow, May 9, 2022.
In a statement, both airlines backed the AON on all the challenges facing domestic airlines in Nigeria and tasked the federal government to act on the issue of the skyrocketing cost of Jet A1 (aviation fuel).
“While Dana Air agrees with the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) on all the challenges facing domestic airlines in Nigeria and have on many occasions actively participated in the collective and ongoing engagement of relevant authorities on the urgent need to tackle the many issues domestic airlines have been grappling with. These include the skyrocketing cost of Jet A1. We have taken a decision not to join the suspension of flights on May 9, 2022.
“We acknowledge that the present cost of Jet A1 is unsustainable and should not be passed to the flying public. We, therefore, call on the government to act urgently to resolve these unending operational challenges, while Dana Air will continue to support every effort by the AON to achieve a quick and peaceful resolution in the interest of our dear country Nigeria,” the statement by Dana Air spokesperson, Kingsley Ezenwa read.
The statement by Overland Airways read in part, “Overland Airways acknowledges the existential threat that these runaway fuel price increases pose for the air transport industry in Nigeria. However, we do not believe that airlines volunteering to stop operations is the solution.
“Overland Airways believes it is the responsibility of the Government to address the inequity behind the aviation fuel supply chain and we join the AON to call on Government urgent action as a duty of state. Overland Airways will continue to provide full service to its customers and the general public with normal operations on Monday 9 May, 2022 and beyond.”
The two airlines are toeing the position of Ibom Air, which yesterday, May 7, 2022, reneged on the AON decision to ground planes.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has for the second time appealed to domestic carriers to shelve their strike action.
Sirika said he understood that the AON was purely a private sector business reacting to market forces as a result of the rising cost of Jet A1 (aviation fuel).
In a statement by his spokesman, James Odaudu, the minister said some people were of the “erroneous impression” that the withdrawal was a kind of strike against the government and appealed for understanding to resolve the problem.
Sirika disclosed that the Ministry had always made conscious efforts to assist members of the AON.
The efforts, he mentioned, included facilitating a meeting between the association and President Muhammadu Buhari during which the association got several concessions, including duty-free importation of aircraft, engines, spare parts and components.
The Minister further stated that at various times, he personally took members of the association to engage with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sort out issues of access to foreign exchange for their operations, and also the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to exploit ways of ensuring the availability of Jet A1 through importation, or from the major marketers.