Many flights can­celled over avi­a­tion fuel scarcity

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - From Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, La­gos

As avi­a­tion fuel scarcity bites harder, flight op­er­a­tions of in­dige­nous air­lines con­tinue to ex­pe­ri­ence hitches across the coun­try.Al­ready, the oil mar­keters have be­gun ra­tioning sup­ply to the air­lines due to lim­ited sup­ply of the com­mod­ity, lead­ing to can­cel­la­tion and de­lay of many air­lines’ flights.

The Arik Air, with a daily fuel re­quire­ment of 500,000 litres, week­end, no­ti­fied its pas­sen­gers that se­vere fuel scarcity was threat­en­ing its smooth op­er­a­tions.

It warned that the sit­u­a­tion might lead to flights de­lay and can­cel­la­tion in some cases.

Daily Trust find­ings in­di­cated that the cur­rent avi­a­tion fuel short­age be­gan to take its toll on flight op­er­a­tions last week with many flights de­layed and, in some cases, can­celled.

A source at the Con­sumer Af­fairs Depart­ment of the Nige­ria Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity (NCAA) con­firmed to our cor­re­spon­dent that pas­sen­gers had in­un­dated the depart­ment with com­plaints over flights de­lay.

Many flights, es­pe­cially in La­gos and Abuja, the op­er­a­tional hubs of many air­lines, have con­tin­ued to be de­layed for more than two hours, since last week, it was learnt.

An NCAA source said: “I think all the air­lines, es­pe­cially Arik Air, are af­fected. Med-View flights ex­pe­ri­enced de­lay. The com­plaint has been the scarcity of avi­a­tion fuel as mar­keters now ra­tion the prod­uct.”

The spokesman of the NCAA, Mr Sam Adurog­boye, could not be reached for his com­ment at the time of fil­ing this re­port.

Mean­while, Dana Air de­cried the sit­u­a­tion, say­ing that it has not helped its ser­vices to the pub­lic.

Mr Obi Mbanuzuo, the man­ager of Dana, in a state­ment is­sued by the spokesman of the air­line, Kings­ley Ok­wudili, said: “We sin­cerely apol­o­gise to our teem­ing guests for the de­lays ex­pe­ri­enced re­cently and re­gret the in­con­ve­niences caused. The re­cent de­lays have not re­ally helped our de­sire and com­mit­ment to take our pas­sen­gers to their des­ti­na­tions on sched­ule.”

How­ever, an avi­a­tion ex­pert, Group Cap­tain John Ojikutu (rtd), has blamed oil mar­keters for the de­vel­op­ment, won­der­ing why there was scarcity of Jet A1 at the face of abun­dant pe­tro­leum.

He stressed the need for re­pair of dam­aged pipelines sup­ply­ing fuel from Ejigbo and Mosimi de­pots to Mur­tala Muhammed Air­port in La­gos, where 70 per cent of avi­a­tion fuel was con­sumed.

He sug­gested to air­lines to un­der­take the re­pair since the Nige­rian Na­tional Pe­tro­leum Cor­po­ra­tion (NNPC) was not will­ing to un­der­take.

It would be re­called that the min­is­ters of state for pe­tro­leum and avi­a­tion, Ibe Kachikwu and Hadi Sirika, re­spec­tively, as­sured air­lines that lo­cal pro­duc­tion of Jet A1 would be­gin.

Ojikutu said: “Just as the mar­keters are not sin­cere, the op­er­a­tors, too, are equally guilty. Ask your­self, why is there no PMS scarcity and there is scarcity of kerosene and Jet A1, even when gov­ern­ment has given an open door to whoso­ever wants to im­port?”

“Find those who own the tankers, those who im­port fuel and some own­ers of de­funct air­lines with AOL (Air Op­er­a­tors Li­cense) that have no air­craft fly­ing but still have ac­cess to fuel with the mar­keters and sell at ridicu­lous price to op­er­at­ing air­lines.”

Re­fill­ing an air­carft ARIK AIR

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