Nigerian airlines, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), have announced plans to shut down operations from Monday over the high cost of aviation fuel.
The group said this in a statement issued on Friday, claiming that aviation fuel, also known as Jet A1, has reached an all-time high of N700 per litre.
The statement was jointly signed by Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, president of the group; Shehu Wada, executive director, Max Air; Mfon Udom, CEO, Ibom Air; Abdullahi Mahmood, CEO, Aero Contractors; Edward Boyo, CEO, Overland Airways; Allen Onyema, chairman, Air Peace; Obiora Okonkwo, chairman, United Nigeria Airlines; Roy Ilegbodu, CEO, Arik Air; Faisal Abdulmunaf, MD, AzmanAir; and Sukh Mann, deputy CEO, Dana Air.
They advised travellers to use roads to avoid being stranded at airports.
“It is with a great sense of responsibility and patriotism that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have carried on deploying and subsidising their services to our highly esteemed Nigerian flying public in the last four months despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1 and other operating costs,” the statement reads.
“Over time, aviation fuel price (JetA1) has risen from N190 per litre to N700 currently. 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% of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shut up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95%.
“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 JetA1 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.”
The airlines added that the cost of aviation fuel has continued to rise unabated, creating huge pressure on operations and the financial viability of operators.
“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,” it added.
“To this end, therefore, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (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 uses this medium to humbly state that we regret any inconveniences this very difficult decision might cause and appeal to travellers to kindly reconsider their travel itinerary and make alternative arrangements.”
In March, the operators suspended the proposed shutdown to avert further disruption in economic activities.
Allen Onyema, vice-president of AON and chairman of Air Peace, had said airlines were considering scaling down on flight frequencies to minimise the cost of operations.
He said the price hike was suffocating local carriers as they spend millions of naira to fill an aircraft with aviation fuel.