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Airline Operators Lament High Cost Of Aviation Fuel, Taxes.

The Airline Operators Of Nigeria, AON, has said that the major reason capable of crumbling the operations of airlines currently in Nigeria was the high cost of aviation fuel, popularly called Jet A1.

While lamenting that Over 70 airlines have gone into extinction in Nigeria in the past few years and three others currently in operation may collapse in the coming weeks, AON attributed the incessant collapse of airlines in Nigeria to the excessive charges confronting operators in the sector, among other concerns.

Speaking on behalf of Airline Operators of Nigeria at the ongoing National Aviation Conference organised by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria in Abuja, the Chairman, Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said though airlines had been interfacing with the Federal Government on the high cost of aviation fuel, the commodity had continued its northward price movement.

According to Onyema, “There are so many issues in the aviation industry. Issues like high taxes are making airlines to be unprofitable here.

“We pay excessive charges to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency. Paying navigation charges is absurd for domestic operations. The mortality rate of airlines in Nigeria is alarming. Over 70 airlines have gone into extinction in the last few years.”

Commenting on the hike in the cost of Jet A1, Onyema said, “The current fuel crisis will take away three airlines in the next weeks. How do we make money in a situation where we pay salaries and charges to different aviation agencies?”

The jump in aviation fuel price as well as in the cost of diesel, which are both deregulated petroleum products, had led to the collapse of businesses both in the aviation and oil and gas sectors.

The Air Peace Chairman also noted at the ongoing conference that the hike in aviation fuel price was putting severe strain on the operations of airlines. He, however, revealed that the Federal Government had given domestic airline operators some volumes of Jet A1.

“That is why we ran to the government and the Federal Government has given us about 10,000 metric tonnes of fuel at the cost of N580/litre in Lagos and about N607/litre outside Lagos,” he stated.

“The government has tried its best by giving us this aviation fuel. This aviation fuel can take airlines out, not only in Nigeria but everywhere in the world.”

He however noted that some airlines outside Nigeria had closed down because of the effects of rising aviation fuel, adding that the concerns should be addressed in Nigeria to avoid affecting the bottom line of all airlines in Nigeria.

The hike in aviation fuel price also triggered a jump in the cost of airfares recently, as a one-hour flight ticket that earlier sold for an average of N30,000 rose to N50,000 as this was implemented by all domestic carriers.

Also speaking on the cost of Jet A1, the Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo, told journalists in Abuja that the government had listened to domestic airlines as regards the concern.

He said, “The government of the day was very magnanimous, kind, listened to us (domestic airlines) and put a lot of things in motion to manage the impact of the aviation fuel price increase.

“We are very happy and grateful to them but the truth of the situation is that those initiatives taken are still at the implementation stage. It has not been fully implemented, so we are not feeling the impact yet.

“Aviation fuel has continued to rise but I can tell you that some of those promises have been implemented and the impacts, we hope, we will feel soon.”

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