Airline operators may shutdown operations in next three days as aviation fuel rises The Informant247

Some aviation experts have urged the Federal Government to grant operational licences to airline operators to import Jet – A fuel, to reduce the recent price hike of the product.

The experts told the newsmen in Lagos on Tuesday while speaking against the backdrop of the ongoing hike in aviation fuel in the country.

The informant247 Nigeria News reported that Nigerian Airline Operators at the National Assembly on March 15 were demanding operational licences from the government to begin the importation of fuel, following the recent scarcity of the product in airports across the country.

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had threatened to shut down their operations on Friday if the government failed to find a lasting solution in ensuring that the marketers reduce the price of JET-A1 fuel.

Dr Gabriel Olowo, President, Aviation Roundtable (ART), said that it would not be out of place for domestic airline operators to seek licences for the importation of Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK).

Olowo noted that there was a need for government to give them the licence to import the product, following the lack of confidence, poor performance and high pricing from the current monopoly source.

“This same move had occurred in the days of Chachangi, ADC, Bellview and Sosoliso Airlines and it will work, if there is no Judas among them.

“Secondly, the cost-benefit analysis of doing so must be critically analysed before concluding.

“The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) already has an operational working model on fuelling, that is working very well. Perhaps that option should be exploited,“ he said.

Olowo said that Nigeria must process its crude, adding that this would bring an end to a government monopoly on the supply of all essential commodities including power.

He added that the country’s case was simply pathetic because it could not easily get to process and consume what they produce year in, year out, except for importation.

Olowo further stated the need for the government not to allow the operators to shut down their operations.

“On shutting down operations by airlines, I do not hope to shut down the airspace will become necessary if the government can do the needful immediately.

“We have not come out of the economic shock of COVID-19 pandemic and l cannot just imagine another shut down for lack of fuel, for reasons that remain cloudy till now. The economic damage will be collapsed,” he said.

However, Grp.-Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd) had urged the airlines to ask NASS committees why the pipeline that supplied fuel from Ejigbo to the Murtala Muhammed Airport could not be repaired since 1992, 30 years after it got ruptured.

Ojikutu, Managing Director of Centurion Security Services, argued that trucking of the fuel was another means of draining the system by the political officials who were in and out of government administration.

The aviation expert said: “Government should use the subsidies from petroleum products to alleviate the problems of Nigeria and Nigerians rather than compound it.

“Why is it that it is only the NNPC that is the only marketers that are now importing fuel? Why has the NNPC excluded Total, Mobil, AP, Conoil and MRS that were initially approved for the fuel importation?

“Up till about 2017, AP has been one of the major marketers that were approved for the importation of Jet-A1; what happened to the change in all these that brought a foreign DUKE to be importing the fuel?

“Rationally, aviation fuel cannot cost less than the price of its cost in the countries where it is coming from, which is about $1.20/ltr or N600+ and that is what the foreign airlines are buying it here, same as in their country,” he said.

According to him,  if the domestic operators must face the realities at the moment.

There are other factors that are not added to the fuel landing cost, such as trucking to the airport and demurrage paid for the number of days at the airport depot,  among others.

He urged the airlines to find out the benefits of the government subsidies of ₦3 trillion to them if it does not reduce the cost of fuel for them.

Ojikutu said the idea of operators going to the National Assembly committees for everything that falls on the purview of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) was not helpful to their cause.

“The economic regulations in the Nig CARs Part demands that each airline that wishes to increase fares should approach the NCAA, with their costs tariffs to convince the authority about the necessary needs to increase fares.

“If they must increase the fares to $120,000, so let it be from the fuel increase at close to N700 per litre increase in ground handling services charges, landing and parking charges, where there should be increase too, air navigational and ATC services too.

“Globally, commercial aviation is trading in dollars and not naira. There has been a lot of spoon-feeding in the management of our commercial aviation by successive government administrations.

“There have been not less than three government intervention funds for the sector, with the private operators taking the junk more than the government agencies; this has to stop,” he said.

Ojikutu noted that if the kitchen was getting too hot, those that cannot stand the heat should take a walk.

It is also gathered that the Jet-A1 fuel which was initially sold for N190 per litre and later N360 per litre in January 2022, rose to between N579 and N607 per litre last week Tuesday.

Possible Effect on Hike

Travelling by air nationwide may soon become a luxury to many Nigerians as many unforeseen circumstances have pushed domestic airlines to increase their fares by over 75 per cent. The increase coming at a time the average Nigerian is battling economic hardship may as well force lovers of air travel to shift patronage to road transport despite the insecurity and poor state of the roads.

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