By Uche Amunike
Owing to the threat made by Nigerian domestic airline operators to shut down operations over the scarcity of aviation fuel, the Federal government has pleaded that they reconsider their decision with claims that they had engaged the relevant stakeholders to address the burning issue of scarcity of aviation fuel.
In a letter signed by the President of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Mr Serina Abdulmunaf and addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the AON made threats about shutting down operations by Monday, May 9, as a result of high cost of aviation fuel and other operational costs.
They stated in the letter that aviation fuel price had risen from N190 per litre to N700 per litre, something they described as ‘astronomical’.
The Federal government has however urged the union to allow it time to explore means of resolving the prevailing challenges.
A statement signed by Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the Minister of Aviation, James Odaudu, partly reads: ‘The attention of the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has been drawn to reports that the nation’s air transportation system will be disrupted from Monday, May 9th, 2022, following threats by airline operators to shut down operations as a result of the rising cost of Jet A1, otherwise known as aviation fuel.’
‘As the Ministry charged with the management of the industry, we are greatly concerned about the difficulties being faced by the airline operators in the country in procuring aviation fuel which has resulted in spiraling costs in Air transportation in the immediate past.’
‘We also acknowledge that the airline operators are in the business to make profits while servicing the very critical sector that is not only the preferred mode of transport for most Nigerians but also the main international gateway to the nation.’
‘Unfortunately the issue of fuel supply is not within the purview of the Ministry and so the much it can do in the present situation is to engage with agencies, institutions and individuals in positions to provide succour to the airlines. This is already being done by the relevant team led by the Honorable Minister.
‘While the efforts to assuage the situation are on, we wish to appeal to the airline operators, even in the difficult situation, to consider the multiplier effect of shutting down operations, on Nigerians and global travelers, in taking their business-informed decisions and actions.’
The Minister, while pleading with the management of Nigerian domestic airlines also assured both Nigerians and stakeholders in the aviation sector about the commitment of the Buhari administration towards the creation and sustenance of an environment that promotes growth in the aviation sector where airlines can carry out operations in a profitable and competitive market.
The House of Representatives through its Committee on Aviation has also made a plea to the Nigerian domestic airlines to reconsider their plans of stopping operations of their airlines as it will greatly affect not only Nigerians, but global travelers.