DOMESTIC flights within Nigeria face being suspended over the coming days after airline operators warned that they may be forced to ground their fleets after oil marketers informed that the cost of aviation fuel has now risen to N680 per litre from N500.
Over recent months, the cost of petroleum products has soared across Nigeria, with petrol, kerosene, engine oil and aviation fuel all witnessing astronomical price rises. In the case of aviation fuel, airlines says that it now represents over 60% of their cost of operations after oil marketers said it now costs N600 per litre in Lagos, N650 per litre in Abuja and N680 per litre in Kano.
Tomorrow, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) is due to meet to address the matter but it has already hinted that airlines might not pass the high cost of aviation fuel to their customers but take the matter to government. One airline official said that despite the resolution reached by industry stakeholders in March that the price of fuel be pegged at N500, fuel marketers have increased it.
He added that some airlines would not survive the price increase because many of them are still recovering from the very low passenger traffic in the first quarter of 2022. Dana Air spokesman Kingsley Ezenwa, expressed optimism that the airlines would not pass the increase to their customers but would reach out to government and marketers for the downward review of the new prices.
Mr Ezenwa added: “For now we have not taken any decision. We just find a way to engage the marketers and the government on the ways to solve this problem. We don’t want to push it to the flying public.
“Everything will continue normally. There is yet no official statement but the impact on our operations will be too much to bear and that is more reason why airlines want to engage government and marketers to find ways to resolve this. It is a big issue. AON needs to step action and engage the government. We want everybody to fly.”
During a meeting held in March at the instance of the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation, AON threatened to shut down operations over the non-availability of aviation fuel for their planes. At the time, the AON told the House that due to the price increase, its members could not sustain their operations.
Currently the base fare of 45 minutes to one hour flight is N50,000, which air travellers described as exorbitant, prompting many travellers to shun the airports. There are indications that any fare hike would further reduce passenger traffic at the airports.