Nigerian airlines, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), say they are not backing down on their plan to shut operations from Monday over the high cost of aviation fuel.
AON’s position comes on the backdrop of the federal government’s plea to the airlines to consider the multiplier effect of their decision on travellers.
AON on Friday said it would commence the suspension of operations from May 9.
In a statement jointly signed by Shehu Wada, executive director, Max Air; Obiora Okonkwo, chairman, United Nigeria Airlines; Allen Onyema, chairman, Air Peace; Roy Ilegbodu, CEO of Arik Air; Abdullahi Mahmood, CEO, Aero Contractors; Faisal Abdulmunaf, MD, Azman Air; and Sukh Mann, deputy CEO, Dana Air, the association said its members are patriotic citizens and are doing all to protect the flying public and the nation at large.
“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,” the statement reads.
“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.
“(AON) regrets 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.
“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 a daily basis to about 95 per cent.
“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.”
The group added that travellers should remain calm while it finds a lasting solution to the crisis.
“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,” it added.