November 29, 2023

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AVIATION FUEL SCARCITY: Airlines, Passengers, Government Still in The Woods

3 min read

R-L: Sen Hadi Sirika, Aviation Minister, Dr Abdulmunaf Sarina, President, AON, Chairman, Max Air, Barrister Allen Onyema, Vice President, Chairman, Air Peace, Prof Okonkwo, PRO, Chairman, United Nigeria Airline, Mr George Uriesi, COO, Ibom Air, in a meeting with the Minister

The Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, and the over 15 million air travellers have been indirectly informed to brace up for the chaotic situation as plagued the industry, especially with the none availability of aviation fuel, called JetA1

This much was revealed by the federal government at a meeting held in Abuja, with the domestic operators and presided over by the Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika.

The Minister disclosed that the present aviation fuel challenge is a global phenomenon and not peculiar to Nigeria hence, operators and the passengers will need to be stoical as it’s a problem to endure right now until a global solution is discovered.

He explained why the JetA1 challenge had exacerbated in Nigeria thus; “today there is aviation fuel problem all over the world. From America to New Zealand. It is aggravating in Nigeria because we don’t produce the product” Sirika said.

Aircraft being refuelled

The Minister also volunteered another contributive factor to the harrowing condition in the air transport sector, the gross lack by the government to generate adequate foreign exchange for the nation’s industries to make any meaningful importation.

Senator Hadi Sirika volunteered the cause for the debilitating effect of the global trend on Nigeria’s economy thus, “it is aggravated also because the foreign exchange is scarce in Nigeria and the source of earning the foreign exchange has also dwindled”.

Asked what it will take to quickly revive the industry which obviously is in a coma and ought to be seen being given attention at the intensive care unit by experts but seems they’re in silos struggling, the minister volunteered; “importation of the product at the appropriate price, accelerating the refurbishment of our refineries and also wait for the coming on stream of Dangote Refinery to boost the supply of the product.”

On the timeline for the approaches enumerated to crystalize, the very frank Hadi Sirika said it may not happen in a hurry due to factors outside the control of the ministry and the federal government.

The Minister volunteered thus, “so when you ask how soon, I wouldn’t know when Dangote will come on stream, I wouldn’t know how soon the refineries will be fixed. I wouldn’t know when imports would become sufficient. But the government is working towards all these to happen,” said Hadi Sirika.

The Aviation Minister however vowed to engage critical stakeholders towards resolving the JETA1 logjam. He singled out the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to be engaged with the view to enabling operators to access forex at the official exchange rate rather than the heinous black market rate.

However, the Vice President of AON, barrister Allen Onyema, who is also the Chairman of Air Peace Airline, said the operators were satisfied with the narration by the government on her intervention but it will not resolve the immediate challenge the airline operators are grappling with to remain in the sky.

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