As the scarcity of aviation fuel persists, domestic airlines in the country have said that they may be forced to scale down their operations if nothing is done to ameliorate the situation.
Many airline operators told our correspondent on Wednesday that aviation fuel, also known as Jet-A1, was being bought at cut throat prices ranging from N160 to N200 per litre instead of N105.
One of the operators, who spoke on condition of anonymity, lamented that the situation was deteriorating.
He said, “There are only two marketers presently supplying Jet-A1 fuel to all the airlines in the country; that is not enough. The remaining oil marketers complain that they are handicapped by their inability to get forex to import the product. Those who get, do so at a very high rate, which also affects their profits.
“What we are doing is using up the stock that we have. Once that stock is used up and it is not replenished, some of the airlines will have to scale down or shut their operations. We cannot continue like this for another week.”
Another operator, who also declined to be quoted, said there was the possibility that some of the marketers were hoarding the product.
He said, “The situation is still very tight although we have not cancelled any flight since Monday. We had some delays but some of the marketers came to our aid. They have been helpful but no one will sell Jet-A1 fuel for less than N200 per litre.
“A lot of persons though have made alternative arrangements since they are not getting it through the normal channels. This is because some of the marketers probably have the product stocked but are unwilling to supply it. They may want to hoard and sell at a higher cost. Since no one will allow their business to die, the airlines will do everything to pacify their passengers and that includes buying the product at a higher price.”
The operator expressed the hope that the situation would stabilise by weekend, adding that what was paramount to the airlines was getting their planes to fly.
Another operator said that the airlines had been advised by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to scale down operations in the meantime.
He said, “We are still operating our usual flights, but there are slight delays here and there. We are doing everything to reduce the delays. It is a desperate situation though we are buying the product at a much higher price.
“Our passengers are not ready for excuses; they just want to be moved to their destinations since they have paid. So, we buy at any rate to ensure that the business moves on.”
The Acting General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said the agency was concerned that passengers were being made to suffer unduly because of the scarcity of Jet-A1.
“Our directive earlier when this situation arose was that the airlines should cut down their operations to services they are able to procure fuel for. Where they have sold tickets, then they should contact the passengers ahead of time to avoid their coming to the airport and be stranded,” Adurogboye said.