By Sade Williams
Nigerian domestic airlines are all set to withdraw flight services across the country from Monday 9th of May over what Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), the umbrella organisation for the airlines, described as the astronomical increase in fuel price.
AON said the nationwide withdrawal of services would be indefinite and be in place until further notice.
Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarinar, president, AON, in a statement he signed and endorsed by other operators, said they have carried on by subsidising their services to the Nigerian flying public in the last four months despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1 and other operating costs.
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The statement is copied to Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, and Musa Nuhu, director general, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
A litre of aviation fuel has risen from N190 to N700 in a space of months.
“It is with a great sense of responsibility and patriotism that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have carried on deploying and subsidising their services to our highly esteemed Nigerian flying public in the last four months despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1 and other operating costs.
“Overtime, aviation fuel price (JetA1) has risen from N190 per litre to N700 currently. No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period. While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40% of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shot up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95%.
“In the face of this, airlines have engaged the federal government, the National Assembly, NNPC and oil marketers with the view of bringing the cost of JetA1 down which has currently made the unit cost per seat for a one hour flight in Nigeria today to an average of N120,000. The latter cannot be fully passed to passengers who are already experiencing a lot of difficulties.
“While AON appreciates the efforts of the current government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure air transport in Nigeria grows, unfortunately, the cost of aviation fuel has continued to rise unabated thereby creating huge pressure on the sustainability of operations and financial viability of the airlines. This is unsustainable and the airlines can no longer absorb the pressure.
‘To this end, therefore, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) hereby wishes to regrettably inform the general public that member airlines will discontinue operations nationwide with effect from Monday May 9, 2022 until further notice.
“AON uses this medium to humbly state that we regret any inconveniences this very difficult decision might cause and appeal to travellers to kindly reconsider their travel itinerary and make alternative arrangements,” the operators said.
The statement was jointly signed by Shehu Wada, executive director, Max Air; Obiora Okonkwo, chairman, United Nigeria Airlines; Mfon Udom, chief executive officer, Ibom Air; Roy Ilegbodu, chief executive officer, Arik Air; Abdullahi Mahmood, chief executive officer, Aero Contractors; Faisal Abdulmunaf, managing director, Azman Air; Edward Boyo, chief executive officer, Overland Airways; Sukh Mann, deputy chief executive officer, Dana Air; Allen Onyema, chairman, Air Peace.