Players in the Nigerian aviation industry have called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency intervene in the continuous rise in the price of Jet A1, otherwise known as aviation fuel.
The industry players said that government’s intervention would prevent the total collapse of the country’s economy.
This is as the carriers under the auspices of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have insisted that rather for them to cut corners as a result of the prevailing situation, they would prefer to shut down operations in order to prevent air crashes.
AON had, late last week, lamented the rising price of Jet A1 in the local market, which it said had climbed to an all-time high of N714 per litre in some airports, warning that at least three of the local carriers may close shop in the next coming months if the situation was not put under control.
The AON said that the sordid situation was further compounding their woes, which is already battling with foreign exchange paucity and dwindling fortune of naira against major currencies.
Mr. Allen Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace, warned that the situation was becoming unbearable to the airline operators in Nigeria and feared that if not put under control, there may be a sad tale.
He, however, assured that rather for the airlines to cut corners, they would shut down operations, assuring that no aircraft would fall off from the sky.
He said: Aviation fuel is now about 120 per cent of our expenses. God forbid, if any airline falls out of the sky tomorrow, it will affect the country’s rating and every part of the economy.
“The airlines will not cut corners and won’t fall from the sky, rather, we will close shop. Airline operations create massive job for the people, we should be supported instead of criticism we are receiving every now and then.”
Also speaking, the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) said that the continuous hike in price of aviation fuel in Nigeria and the scarcity of the product was capable of crippling the country’s aviation industry.
Engr. Abednego Galadima, the President of NAAPE in an interview with our correspondent, challenged the Federal Government to intervene in the situation before it destroyed the economy.
Galadima said the association was worried about the issue, decrying that it has made traveling very difficult for passengers and caused much disruption in the operations of domestic airlines.
He added: “The industry is still recovering from the negative impact of the pandemic and many airlines haven’t completely recovered from the pandemic.
If this issue of scarcity is not immediately addressed by the Federal Government, not only would the airlines be negatively impacted, the ripple effect will be felt in the aviation downstream sector, which may lead to job losses.
Recently, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, the Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines (UNA) had raised the alarm that the price of aviation fuel rose by over 100 per cent in the last one year in the local market.
Besides, Okonkwo stated that that the exchange rate had also jumped from N340 to N570 to a dollar within the same period, stressing that it was pertinent for the government to look critically into the development of the industry in order to arrest collapse.
He had said: “The aviation industry in Nigeria has witnessed a whole lot of inconsistencies in the last one year. For instance, when we started on February 12, 2021, the price of aviation fuel was only N190 per litre.”