OrderPaperToday- With aviation gasoline prices fluctuating between N600 and N700 in regions where they can be found, Nigerian airlines are unable to pay, as well as cope with shortage of the product.
The aircraft industry has been overburdened and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has begun to grind some airlines.
Airline Operators have on different occasions threatened to shut down the aviation sector If nothing is done to address the scarcity and high cost of aviation fuel (Jet-A1).
The House of Representatives in March 2022 ordered an immediate probe into the sudden scarcity and high cost of Jet A-1.
The decision followed a Motion of Urgent National Importance sponsored by Nnolim Nnajl John (Nkanu East/West Federal Constituency of Enugu).
The House noted that if urgent and immediate steps are not taken to ameliorate the challenges, airlines and passengers will continue to suffer several consequential economic and travel crises that might lead to a total shutdown of air transport services.
It also notes that Nigeria imports 100% of Jet A-1 (Aviation fuel) used by airlines in its flight operations and its astronomical increase can impede on airline services.
Days later, the House held an emergency meeting between Aviation Oil marketers, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), as well as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.
The meeting was to resolve the issues surrounding the hike and attendant scarcity of aviation fuel (Jet-A1).
Vice-Chairman of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, Allen Onyeama, warned that Nigerians could pay as much as N120,000 on airfares.
The stakeholders later resolved to sell the product at N500 per litre which implies that the unit cost of an individual’s air ticket will be sold at N85,000 instead of the proposed N120,000 as earlier mentioned by the airline operators.
The House leadership also requested oil marketers to make Aviation Fuel, commonly known as Jet A1 fuel, immediately available to airline operators and to discontinue the policy of airlines paying cash upfront.
In May 2022, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) again proposed a strike action scheduled to commence on Monday, 9th May 2022.
The House leadership however met with the lawmakers and resolved after a four-hour meeting with stakeholders in the aviation sector.
For the short term, it was resolved that six million litres should be supplied to airline operators for three months at the rate of N480 per litre.
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While for the long term, it was resolved that licences be granted to airline operators to import their aviation fuel.
Indeed, the House of Representatives and its leadership deserve all the commendation for its continuous and timely interventions in times as these.
But with the proposed strike now called off, what are the measures be taken to forestall a shutdown of the sector in a time of another challenge?
As a people, it’s time to move from reactive meetings to proactive and sustainable solutions to the challenges of the aviation sector and all other sectors with concern.