Airlines Operators Threaten To Shut Down Operations, FG Begs



Federal Government of Nigeria has asked airline operators to consider the multiplier effect of shutting down their activities.

The airline operators under the umbrella body called Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) in a letter addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which was signed by its Abdulmunaf Yunusa, had threatened to shut down operations by Monday, May 9, due to high cost of aviation fuel and other operational costs.


The operators had noted in the letter that aviation fuel price (JetA1) had risen from N190 per litre to N700, and described the rise as “astronomical.”

Part of the letter reads: “While aviation fuel worldwide is said to constitute about 40 per cent of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shot up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95 per cent.


“In the face of this, airlines have engaged the Federal Government, the National Assembly, NNPC and Oil Marketers with the view to bringing the cost of JetA1 down, to no success,” the letter read.



The airline operators added that the situation had made the unit cost per seat for a one hour flight in Nigeria an average of N120,000.


Recall in March 2022, the operators due to hike in aviation fuel price increased airlines ticket by 100 percent. An hour flight which goes for N22,000 became N50,000.


However, in a swift response, Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has appealed to airline operators to consider the multiplier effect of shutting down operations on Nigerians and global travellers, in taking their business-informed decisions and actions.


The minister in a statement issued in Abuja by his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Mr James Odaudu, noted the “reports that the nation’s air transportation system will be disrupted as from Monday, May 9, 2922, 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 them 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 Honourable Minister,” the statement read.


The statement also noted that 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 travellers, in taking their business-informed decisions and actions.


“We also assure Nigerians, especially stakeholders in the sector, that the Buhari administration remains stoic in its commitment to the creation and sustenance of an environment that promotes the growth of the aviation industry where major players like the airlines can operate in a profitable and competitive market,” the statement added.

Also, the House of Representatives through its House Committee on Aviation has appealed to the airlines to suspend the plan to ground their operations.


The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, Hon. Nnolim Nnaji disclosed yesterday that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila was greatly disturbed by the reoccurring aviation fuel crisis in the country.


He said: “The House of Representatives consequently plans to take far-reaching decisions on the matter as soon as possible to ensure that the problem is permanently rested.”

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