Home Nigeria Passengers stranded as scarcity of fuel grounds international flights

Passengers stranded as scarcity of fuel grounds international flights

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Murtala-Muhammed-International-Airport-Lagos3Thousands of passengers were stranded at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos on Friday night as scarcity of aviation fuel grounded most international flights.

Saturday PUNCH observed that the passengers had arrived the airport and proceeded to check in, but waited for hours without being attended to at the various counters.

It was only when some of the passengers started protesting that officials of South Africa Airways disclosed to them that flights had been cancelled due to scarcity of aviation fuel.

There was no official at the Arik Air office and counter to attend to the worried passengers.

‎However, our correspondent gathered that the scarcity of aviation fuel had taken a huge toll on airline operations with Arik Air declaring on Saturday morning (today) that it had lost an estimated $9m since last week to disruptions of its operations.

The airline said the scarcity of aviation fuel had adversely hit its operations, that it was forced to scale down its flights to 20 per cent capacity out of over 100 flights daily .

Its Managing director, Mr. Chris Ndulue, said it had put series of contingency plans in place to ensure it does not shut down its operations because of the scarcity of aviation fuel.

He said the airline flew to neighbouring countries in West and Central Africa to source to aviation fuel at a ridiculously high rate to sustain its operations.

Ndulue said Arik Air now flies to Ghana, Cameroon and Benin Republic to source for aviation fuel.

He said if the fuel situation did not improve the airline may not operate flights, as the alternate arrangement was costing the airline much money with the attendant inconveniences to passengers.

Ndulue said since last Thursday when the scarcity of aviation fuel intensified, Arik Air had over stretched its bounds to secure the over 800,000 litres needed for its daily operations.

“For over one week now, aviation fuel scarcity has impacted negatively in our flight operations. It has become very bad that we have to scale down our flights graduallym

“In the last one week it has become increasingly difficult to sustain our operations owing largely to scarcity of aviation fuel,” the Arik Air MD said.

Getting fuel to fly to our international destinations has become extremely expensive, because we have to source fuel from Kano, Cotonou , Cameroon and Accra to sustain our operations .

Because if the huge quantity of fuel averaging about 800,000 litres needed daily for our wide body aircraft it becoming very difficult

He said, “If the situation does not improve in the coming days, we may not return to normal flight operations.

“We appeal to passengers for their understanding on account of the inconveniences they are going through arising from the flight disruptions.”

He added, By today, the disruption of flights has reached its lowest ebb forcing us to carry out only 20 per cent of our operations . With the attendant loss of over one million dollars daily the scarcity is constituting additional costs to our operations.”

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