Scarcity of aviation fuel: Domestic airlines accuse FG of negligence

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency address the acute shortage of Jet Fuel that the country has been experiencing in recent times.

The call was made by the Chairman of AON, Captain Nogie Meggison on the heels of a consistent unavailability of the product in the past week for airlines to conduct their operations, thereby leading to 50 per cent delays or cancellation of flights.

The airlines said they were forced to cry out about the perennial problem because “it continues to put us in a difficult situation to go an extra mile to fulfil our obligations to our esteemed customers in spite of the inconveniences that go with it.

“However, we are at the mercy of the oil marketers and many times our hands are tied such that we are left with no other option than to cancel flights.”

Speaking further, the AON Chairman noted that with the shortage of Jet A-1, the marketers have been increasing the price consistently to an unbearable point.

“Till April this year, I bought Jet A1 Fuel for N105 a litre. About a month ago, the price jumped to N145. Two weeks later it rose to about N200 per litre. Today the price has skyrocketed above N200 per litre. This has greatly increased our operational cost.

“For instance, considering that the cost of fuel accounts for about 40 per cent of the operational cost of most airlines, the colossal rise in price of the product by over 100 per cent has equally increased the operational cost astronomically. In the light of this, our feasibility studies and financial projections are greatly threatened thereby putting the airlines in a dangerous and difficult financial position.

“In spite of all this, we can’t increase ticket prices in order not to discourage our dear customers that have been seriously stretched due to the economic hard time facing them and their disposable income seriously reduced or erased.

“For most of them now the alternative means of travel is going by road; our major competitor. It should be put on record, howeve, that road transport uses Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as Petrol, which is highly supported or assisted by the Federal Government with exchange rate of N285 and available to marketers. Airlines on the other hand don’t have such foreign exchange support or availability from our government with regards to helping to make Jet Fuel available to airlines or at an affordable price.

“PMS forex allocation is being given regularly to importers at N285 to the dollar, and the road transporters don’t pay five per cent VAT or the Regulatory five per cent Ticket Sales Tax or any of the other multiple taxes being charged to the airlines today, where as much as 35 per cent of a total ticket price are taxes and levies.”

The AON leadership while lamenting that apart from the question of no support in fixed rate of jet fuel, accused the government of not making dollar available for the airlines to carry out their operations.