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Flights cancellations and delays are now very popular at several busy airports, thus leading to rising frustrations and anxiety of passengers. The development is traced to scarcity of aviation fuel, Jet A1.
Aviation fuel, otherwise called Jet-A1, is a specialised type of petroleum-based fuel used to power aircraft and normally accounts for over 30 per cent of operation cost of an airline.
Jet-A1 is 100 per cent imported into Nigeria and subject to fluctuations in the foreign exchange market. In the last 12 months in Nigeria, aviation fuel has steadily climbed from N104 to N240 per litre in Lagos and as high as N270 in northern part of the country.
Study by Business Hilights at airports from Monday to Thursday show just as airline operators jostle for aviation fuel, amidst scarcity that is getting worse, passengers that had long booked their flights online are now jittery of total cancelation of their travel plans.
Since this week, it was discovered that many airports especially Lagos, Abuja and Kano had been hard hit as passengers, some of whom were on transit, waited endlessly at the departure halls.
Only few were lucky to later travel, others were later informed that their scheduled flights had been cancelled.
Whereas several travel routes can better be described as fully booked by almost all the airlines, it was discovered that since this week, about three out of every four flights were cancelled, with operators citing ‘operational reasons’.
Reviewing the development, spokesman for Arik Air, Banji Ola, said the airline is the worst-hit due to the huge volume of fuel it required daily to run over 100 flights, but has “drastically been in short supply of the commodity in the last three weeks.”
He said “the airline required about 500,000 litres of fuel daily and 150,000 for the Lagos-London operations alone”.
“We have not been able to get anything close to the daily requirement and that is why it is affecting us heavily. We are working hard to carry out our schedule and trying to reorganise ourselves to cope with the challenges.”
However, several Aviation fuel marketers operating within Lagos airport tank farm explained that the scarcity is due to the lingering problem of foreign exchange hike and scarcity of dollar to import sufficient aviation fuel into the country.