Reps order immediate crashing of price of Jet-A1

Domestic airlines

The House of Representatives, yesterday, ordered the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), to crash the price of aviation fuel, also known as Jet-A1 and ensure its availability to airline operators.

The directive followed a meeting at the National Assembly between the leadership of the House led by the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase and members of the Committee on Aviation.

Other attendees included the Group Managing Director (GMD), Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari, Director-General Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Musa Nuhu, and NMDPRA.

The House said it would not entertain any excuses until the price of the aviation fuel crashed and the product was made available to the airlines.

The meeting was convened sequel to a motion passed by the House on the need to investigate the sudden and high cost of aviation fuel, which has created an existential threat to airline operations, sponsored by the chairman House Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji.

Speaking earlier, the Director-General of NCAA, Musa Nuhu, described the increase as a significant concern not only for the inconvenience caused in terms of flight delays and cancellations but also the safety concern of passengers.

Nuhu argued that “If airlines cannot have enough financial margins to comply with all mandatory requirements and considering the cost of air ticket now and coupled with oil price increase, the airlines cannot survive.”

He said the NCAA would cooperate with the House by supporting any interventions that would improve the supply of the product to address the general concerns raised.

There’s no scarcity

On his part, the Executive Director, NMDPRA, Ogbugo Ukoha, dismissed insinuations that there is scarcity of Jet A1, saying there is enough volume to go round both onshore and offshore for 34 days.

He also explained that the agency’s role is to issue licences to dealers of the product, adding that about 28 marketers were licensed to import the product in the last 3 months.

He informed that the licence lasts for 90 days, and that from their record, as of Thursday, they had 34.9 days of the sufficiency of the product.

If airlines cannot have enough financial margins to comply with all mandatory requirements and considering the cost of air tickets now and coupled with oil price increase, the airlines cannot survive.

Flight disruptions

Ahead of the meeting with the lawmakers, airline operators had warned of possible flight disruptions due to scarcity of aviation fuel.

In a statement on Wednesday, Air Peace, one of Nigeria’s biggest carriers, said: “Unfortunately the fuel scarcity is starting to seriously impact our operations. We are likely to experience flight disruptions today and in the coming days until the situation is resolved.”

Other domestic airlines, including Arik, Dana Air and Ibom Air, also issued similar notices.

Importers of aviation fuel have also been unable to obtain foreign exchange to pay for their products, further compounded by the rising oil prices.

This pushed the price of aviation fuel to as high as N607 per litre at some airports far above N360/litre in December.

Accordingly, airlines doubled ticket prices last month to cover the rising cost of operations, which was nullified by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCP), which described it as anti-competitive.

Spring Alliance

With the voiding of the fare hike, six airlines, namely Air Peace, Azman Air, United Nigeria Airline, Arik Air, Aero Contractors, and Max Air announced a ‘Spring Alliance’, to mutually support each other’s operations and surpass the expectations of the flying public.

At the signing of the alliance on Tuesday, in Lagos, Air Peace Chairman and Vice-President, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Allen Onyema, said the Spring Alliance is for the benefit of the passengers who fly with the six airlines.

He said: “In the Aviation world, we have so many alliances airlines key into. We have the Star Alliance; there is One World and several others. And airlines decide to key into those alliances for the benefit of both the passengers and the airlines themselves.”

“By this alliance, our passengers are protected whenever there is a problem with one airline. It is our response to the complaints of the flying public, so this alliance will enable us to satisfy them,” he added.

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