No Respite For Galloping JET A1, Chaos At Airpots

  • Fuel Scarcity Hits CScores stranded, airlines cancel, delay flights



The aviation industry in Nigeria was thrown into chaos following the acute shortage of aviation fuel, otherwise known as Jet A1, forcing virtually all the carriers to reschedule flights while others who could not get the product cancelled flights.

The domestic terminals of the Lagos airport and other aerodromes across the country were full to the brim as restless passengers engaged airline officials in fisticuffs over the explanation that flights were cancelled because of the unavailability of the commodity.

Many airlines have been voicing concerns about the impact of rising fuel costs – airlines’ largest operating cost item – on their financial recovery.


An aircraft re-fuels at an airport

In Lagos, Jet A1 sells for N579 per litre; Abuja N599, Port-Harcourt N599, and Kano N607. Just a few weeks ago, aviation fuel marketers increased Jet A1 to about N450 per litre which forced the carriers to raise airfares by 100 percent.

The base fare for an hour trip now costs as high as N50, 000 and more on routes that there are just one or two operators servicing them.

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There are indications that airlines could further raise fares because of aviation fuel which price skyrocketed between N506 and N600 per litre; a new high in the aviation industry.

Aviation fuel accounts for about 40% of airlines’ operational costs and has impacted heavily on the airlines’ purse.

The carriers are in dire straits as they do not know when the scarcity would come to an end.

An airline official who pleaded anonymity told Aviation Metric that In January 2021, Jet A1 sold for we N190 per liter., stressing that at the end of the year, they paid N360.

“At the end of February 2022, just over a week ago, it was N415. Yesterday it was between N445 and N460. Today it is N579 per liter in Lagos, N599 in Abuja, and N607 in Kano. And that’s where you find it. We have 5 flights on the ground in Abuja waiting for fuel from anywhere. They are not selling it except you pay cash upfront”.

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While scarcity hit the domestic aviation market, foreign airlines are insulated from the crisis. Everyone knows that once there is fuel scarcity, the marketers’ reserve enough for the foreign airlines who pay them is forex.

“We have encountered a situation today where aviation fuel is scarce and therefore unavailable at almost all our flight destinations. This has significantly impacted our flight schedule today and may do the same tomorrow”, an operator stated.

Ibom Air in a statement apologized to all our passengers affected by the current situation, adding that at this time, they had no indication when the issue will be resolved.

“However, we are working with our fellow airlines and fuel suppliers to find a solution.  Our passengers and the public should please be informed.  We will give an update once we have further information”.

Aviation security consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (Rtd) said domestic airlines are complaining of an increase in fuel prices but wondered why foreign airlines are not complaining.

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He alleged that many of the domestic carriers are seriously indebted to the fuel marketers, noting that the cost is the same as it is at home and does not require them to fly to Accra for fuel considering the cost of the fuel burnt to Accra, Ghana including landing and parking charges and air navigational charges as additional cost.

But Chief Operating Officer for Ibom Air, George Uriesi countered Ojikutu, saying airlines pay as you go in today’s operating environment.

According to him, “The days of carrying on operating and getting away with it while owing billions and mounting those debts are long gone. So I’m surprised that you keep saying this. This is not so for other airlines”.

Wole Shadare