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Sunday, July 14, 2024

It Gets Worse: Flights Delayed, Cancelled Over Scarcity Of Aviation Fuel

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Again, hundreds of passengers were stranded at various airports in the country monday when they could not board their flights as scheduled due to scarcity of aviation fuel.

Since last weekend, the scarcity of the product became severe leading to cancellation of flights by some airlines and delays.

Last Sunday, Arik flight billed for Abuja from the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri was cancelled and passengers out of frustration became unruly and nearly manhandled the airline officials.

The passengers were said to have obstructed another Arik flight from the airport to Lagos and at the end of the fracas, the airline still airlifted those billed for Abuja but later decided to go to Lagos.

But spokesman of the airline, Banji Ola, said before the time for the flight, Arik sent messages to the passengers notifying them about the cancellation because of non-availability of aviation fuel, known as Jet A1.

Also yesterday, Air Peace flight from Owerri to Abuja was delayed for about three hours because the airline could not source fuel for the flight but later Oando agreed to rescue the airline by feeding the aircraft with the product.

For over four weeks airlines have experienced disruptions in their flights due to inadequate supply of Jet A1, which has adversely affected the airline, the passengers and the nation’s economy.

THISDAY gathered from an operator that the oil marketing companies now ration the product because it could not go round and only strive to maintain their contract with foreign airlines by making sure they supply products to them first.

But since the scarcity started, most foreign carriers get their supply from outside the country and only top up when they land in Nigeria.

This is to ensure that the scarcity did not disrupt their operations, but the local airlines need more of the product and feel the pang when the marketers could not meet their need.
For example, Arik Air requires about 1.2 million litres of the product for its daily operations, which involved about 120 flights.

Meanwhile, it has been estimated that domestic airlines may be losing over N500 million daily as the biting scarcity of aviation fuel forces airlines to cancel 50 per cent of their flights as the product is rationed by oil marketers.

Inside source told THISDAY that domestic carriers generate about N2 billion daily as ticket sales and the scarcity has cut down about 25 per cent of their operation as cancelled flights, while about 50 per cent are delayed, while waiting for fuel delivery and the 25 per cent are largely early morning flights that leave as scheduled.
THISDAY also learnt that the earlier would have been losing more than the aforementioned amount if not that there is general reduction of passenger demand because of the economic downturn.

Following the worsening situation, major Nigeria’s carrier, Arik Air has alerted air travelers of severe scarcity of the product.

According to the spokesman of the airline, Banji Ola, “The scarcity which has been on and off in the past few weeks has reached an alarming proportion as oil marketers are finding it difficult to cope with the requirements of the airline. The scarcity is more pronounced in Lagos and Abuja hubs, where a number of flights had to be delayed while awaiting supply of fuel and some are cancelled due to untimely delivery by the marketers.”

Ola said some of the contributing factors to flight delays include “for instance, inadequate and unserviceable bowsers as well as trucking distance to go back and forth between the depots and airport.

“Due to the inability of oil marketers to meet our daily fuel requirements because of the number of local, regional and international flights we operate, our operations are most impacted and passengers inconvenienced.
“We therefore appeal for the understanding of our guests as all stakeholders continue to find a lasting solution to the problem.”

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