Local airlines yesterday notified the Federal Government and the general public of the plan to shut down all scheduled services indefinitely effective next Monday, May 9, over unbearable cost of aviation fuel that currently sells at N700 per litre.
The airlines, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), in a memo yesterday, regretted consequences of the “inevitable” shutdown on travellers that have already booked to travel.
In a similar vein, aviation workers’ unions have also notified the government of a two-day warning strike in protest against unresolved Conditions of Service and outstanding welfare concerns, starting from Monday, May 9.
President of the AON, Abdulmunaf Yunusa, in the memo endorsed by nine other airline chiefs, noted that government’s earlier intervention in the aviation fuel crisis had failed to forestall imminent shutdown, with Jet-A1 scaling the N500/litre benchmark to N700.
Yunusa noted that no airline could survive with the astronomical increase in aviation fuel and high cost of operations, yet continue to offer subsidised airfares to the travelling public.
He observed that aviation fuel price had in about 12 months risen from N190 per litre to N700 currently. He added: “No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period. While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40 per cent of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shut Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95 per cent.
“In the face of this, airlines have engaged the Federal Government, the National Assembly, NNPC and oil marketers with the view to bringing the cost of Jet-A1 down which has currently made the unit cost per seat for a one-hour flight in Nigeria today to an average of N120, 000. The latter cannot be fully passed to passengers, who are already experiencing a lot of difficulties.
“While AON appreciates the efforts of the current government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure air transport in Nigeria grows, unfortunately, the cost of aviation fuel has continued to rise unabated thereby creating huge pressure on the sustainability of operations and financial viability of the airlines. This is unsustainable and the airlines can no longer absorb the pressure.
“To this end, therefore, the AON hereby wishes to regrettably inform the general public that member airlines will discontinue operations nationwide with effect from Monday May 9, 2022, until further notice. AON regrets any inconveniences this very difficult decision might cause and appeal to travellers to kindly reconsider their travel itinerary and make alternative arrangements,” Yunusa stated.
The notice was endorsed by the Executive Director of Max Air, Shehu Wada; Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo; CEO of Ibom Air, Capt. Mfon Udom; CEO of Arik Air, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu; his counterpart in Aero Contractors, Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood; MD of Azman Air, Faisal Abdulmunaf; CEO of Overland Airways, Capt. Edward Boyo; Deputy CEO of Dana Air, Sukh Mann, and Chairman of Air Peace airline, Allen Onyema.