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An aircraft refuelling before departure.

Airlines decry operational effect as severe Jet A1 scarcity rocks aviation

Nigerian airlines have expressed gloom as they are currently grappling with the non-availability of Jet A1 also known as aviation fuel which is crippling their operations causing flight delays and cancellations for some airlines.

Currently, the product is selling for as high as N180 per litre in Lagos while places like Abuja and Kano the product sells for N195 and N200 per litre respectively despite insinuations that Jet-A1 is cheaper to import than Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Already, Arik Air has expressed fear at its inability to continue flying unhindered as the unavailability of the product has led to flight schedule disruptions of its operations across the country.

According to the airline, since the beginning of this year, Nigeria has been grappling with inadequate supply of aviation fuel leading in most cases to severe shortage of the product and consequently the disruption of flight operations.

The statement signed by Arik Spokesman Mr. Adebanji Ola read in part, “For the past week, the airline had to face another round of aviation fuel scarcity which got worse over this weekend leading to many flight delays and cancellations.”

“The airline operates an average of 120 daily flights requiring about 500,000 liters of fuel daily. Due to the large number of domestic and international flights, it is the most impacted by the inability of oil marketers to meet its daily fuel requirements on a timely and consistent basis. “

“This has forced the airline to postpone flights while waiting for the fuel marketers to source and deliver the product. On many occasions, despite all efforts in engaging the marketers if fuel could not be sourced, the flights may eventually be cancelled causing not only revenue loss for the airline but also inconveniencing or stranding the passengers.”

“Arik Air has identified supply and infrastructural challenges of the marketers as some of the key factors responsible for the epileptic supply of aviation fuel. At the root of the fuel supply crisis is low stock due to the inability of marketers to source for the foreign exchange to import more Jet A1 fuel into the country.”

“ There is also a distribution challenge as the discharging of vessels bringing Jet A1 and other petroleum products are done in the same Jetty and loading various trucks for distribution to cities like Kano or Abuja takes considerable effort and time. The situation in the north is even more difficult since the product takes longer to be delivered due to the trucking distance. Oil marketers have also resorted to trucking of aviation fuel to the airports because hydrants are not consistently available at the airports.”

“Arik Air has also stated that it is working on a longer term plan which will be finalized in the coming months to mitigate this situation and to be in a better position to address such supply shortages and delays.

While the Federal Government and oil marketers are working hard to address the supply and distribution challenges, we appeal to our guests to bear with us as they may experience flights delays and cancellations because of the prevailing scarcity of aviation fuel across the country. Marketers have assured that the situation would improve this week as they are expecting delivery of additional stock.

Where flights are likely to be delayed or cancelled, Arik Air will notify passengers through SMS and do all possible to accommodate passengers on the first available alternate flight.

The Accountable Manager of Dana Air, Mr Obi Mbanuzuo, while addressing newsmen in Lagos expressed the airline’s displeasure over some of the challenges facing domestic airlines like the rise in fuel price and high exchange rate among other issues.

The Executive Director of Operations of Medview Airlines, Mr. Lookman Animashuan said although the airline has an agreement with its marketers, that it will only last so long as its marketer has the product despite the airline is currently buying at astronomical rate.

In a telephone conversation with Nigerianflightdeck.com, Animashaun said the airline has not cancelled or delayed any flight as a result of the scarcity and will not do so in the next couple of weeks so long as the product is made available by their marketers even at the current high rate.

He also confirmed the price spike in the product stating that,” there is a serious shortage, we have not cancelled any flight because of that but we are being affected by the high price we purchase the product. Right now in Lagos Jet A1 is selling for as much as N180 IN Lagos while in Abuja it sells for over N192 and in Kano the price is over N200”

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