Nigeria: Airlines May Halt Operations Over High Cost of Aviation Fuel

Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) the umbrella organisation for domestic carriers has threatened to shut down flight service over high cost of aviation fuel, as its members are finding it increasingly difficult to provide service at huge cost.

The operators, who met yesterday in Lagos in response to the increase in the prices of aviation fuel on Thursday from N500 per litre to N700, said that they do not have the funds to continue to subsidise the cost of their operations.

In a statement signed by the President of AON and Chairman of Azman Air, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, the body said it sympathised with air travelers, as it did not have any other choice than to shut down operations over high cost of aviation fuel.

On Thursday oil marketers announced the new cost of aviation fuel, known as Jet A1 to airlines and said that the new prices were as follows: Lagos, N600 per litre, Abuja, N650 per litre, Kano, N680 per litre and Maiduguri, N700 per litre.

“It is with a great sense of responsibility and patriotism that the Airline Operators of Nigeria has carried on deploying and subsidising their services to our highly esteemed Nigerian flying public in the last four months despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1 and other operating costs.

“Overtime, aviation fuel price (JetA1) has risen from N190 per litre to N700 currently. No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period.

While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40 per cent of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shut up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95 per cent,” AON said in the statement.

It also stated that in the face of this, airlines have engaged the Federal Government, the National Assembly, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Oil Marketers with the view to bringing the cost of JetA1 down which has currently made the unit cost per seat for a one hour flight in Nigeria today to an average of N120, 000, which could not be fully passed to passengers who are already experiencing a lot of difficulties.

In other words, the airlines said that if they pass the cost of operation to the passengers, each passenger would pay about N120, 000 per seat for one hour flight.

“While AON appreciates the efforts of the current government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure air transport in Nigeria grows, unfortunately, the cost of aviation fuel has continued to rise unabated; thereby creating huge pressure on the sustainability of operations and financial viability of the airlines. This is unsustainable and the airlines can no longer absorb the pressure.

“To this end; therefore, the Airline Operators of Nigeria hereby wishes to regrettably inform the general public that member airlines will discontinue operations nationwide with effect from Monday May 9, 2022 until further notice. AON uses this medium to humbly state that we regret any inconveniences this very difficult decision might cause and appeal to travelers to kindly reconsider their travel itinerary and make alternative arrangements,” AON said.

Others who jointly signed the statement include Alhaji Shehu Wada – Executive Director, Max Air 2. Dr. Obiora Okonkwo – Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Capt. Mfon Udom – CEO, Ibom Air, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu – CEO, Arik Air and Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood – CEO, Aero Contractors.

Others include Alhaji Faisal Abdulmunaf – MD, Azman Air, Capt. Edward Boyo – CEO, Overland Airways, Mr. Sukh Mann – Deputy CEO, Dana Air and Barr. Allen Onyema, Chairman, Air Peace.

The statement was also copied to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and the Director General, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu.