No going back on flight suspension – Airlines

ebefb airplanes in nigeria airlines
ebefb airplanes in nigeria airlines

By Chinelo Obogo

Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has said there is no going back on flight suspension over high cost of aviation fuel today (Monday).

The body of scheduled and non scheduled operators said in a statement signed by its President, Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, that it stands firmly by the decision to suspend operations, describing their action as a collective sacrifice for the common interest of the nation.

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The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had on Saturday, appealed to the airlines not to suspend operations, but the body said airlines are not run with public funds and can’t continue to pay upfront in cash at N700 per litre for aviation fuel, which has increased their cost of operations on daily basis to about 95%. It said the increase is unsustainable and that its consequences, if allowed to stay, will be borne by the passengers.

“In the light of frantic developments within the last twenty four hours since informing the general public of our decision to suspend operations in response to the astronomic and continuously rising cost of JetA1, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) would like to state unequivocally that we stand firmly by our decision.

“Airline operators are patriotic citizens and we are doing all we can to protect the flying public contrary to what some subjective schools of thought might suggest. This is a collective sacrifice for the common interest of our nation.

“May we use this medium to clearly state that; “Airlines are not on strike. We are private investors who do not run our airlines with public funds to be able to continue to pay upfront in cash at N700 per litre for JetA1 which has increased our cost on daily basis to about 95%. This is totally unsustainable. And its consequences, if allowed to stay, will be borne by the passengers; which is what we are trying to prevent.

“To this end therefore, we remain resolute in our resolve to find a lasting solution to this crucial problem of national emergency and once again use this medium to appeal to the conscience of our esteemed passengers for their understanding,” AON said.

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The airlines that signed the agreement are Max Air , United Nigeria Airlines, Air Peace , Arik Air, Aero Contractors, Azman Air, Dana Air.

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Daily Sun reached out to Overland Airways to ask why it was not part of the signatories but there was no response. Green Africa also didn’t comment.

On the decision of Ibom Air to exempt itself from suspension of flights, AON said: “We regret the unfortunate position taken by one of our members, Ibom Air, not to stand by the collective decision. While they may have their reasons for doing what they did, it is pertinent to note that they equally accepted in their statement that the JetA1 situation poses an “existential threat to the air transport industry in Nigeria” and that “the out-of-control situation is simply unsustainable.”

On how the issue can be immediately resolved, the Chief Operating Officer of TAL, an non scheduled operator, Femi Adeniji, told Daily Sun that the government should immediately come up with relief for the airlines.

He said: “There was N22 billion that was approved as palliative for the airlines during covid that was not released, so, the Federal Government should not give them the cash directly, but that money should be released and used for jet fuel subsidy. For each gallon the marketers sell to the airline, a certain percentage should be subsidised.

“Crude oil price has increased and NNPC has made more money now that the Ukrainian war is on, so they should be able to subsidise jet fuel. Sales tax should also be reduced.

“Also, the importation of all commercial aviation needs should be duty free and landing and passenger charges should be reduced.”

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