The Airline Operators of Nigeria have called off a plan to suspend flights in protest against rising jet fuel prices. The Nigerian carriers had planned to ground flights this Monday but will maintain operations until further notice.
Nigerian airlines abort protest plan
After planning collective action to ground flights in protest against skyrocketing fuel costs, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has announced its plan will not go ahead.
The airline group, which represents Nigeria’s nine domestic carriers, will continue flights and pursue further negotiations with the government, it said on Sunday.
“Further to numerous calls from the highest echelons in government with promises to urgently intervene in the crises being faced by airlines due to the astronomic and continuously rising cost of JetA1, the AON has acceded to requests to withdraw the action for the time being while we allow for a fresh round of dialogue with the government in the hope of reaching an amicable solution.”
As Simple Flying reported last week, Nigerian carriers were to shut down operations due to rising fuel costs this Monday, amounting to around 225 flights with nine airlines – Max Air, Ibom Air, Aero Contractors, Overland Airways, Air Peace, United Nigeria Airlines, Arik Air, Azman Air, and Dana Air.
However, a few airlines since pulled out of the planned protest, including Ibom Air and Dana Air, after Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, pleaded with airlines to reconsider their protest. Air Peace affirmed its support for the collective action before AON’s announcement on Sunday.
Nigerian customers reacted to news of a shutdown with dismay. Traveling by road or rail in Nigeria can be dangerous as various kidnapping gangs remain active. In March, nine people died and 62 were kidnapped and held hostage after gunmen attacked their train.
“We have also reached this decision with the highest consideration for our esteemed customers who have been faced with uncertainty over the last few days and to enable them to have access to travel to their various destinations for the time being during the period of discussions with relevant authorities.”
Fuel prices have almost quadrupled since January
Nigerian airlines are struggling with spiraling jet fuel prices, which have shot up from 190 to 700 Nigerian naira per liter ($0.45 to almost $1.70) between January and May.
While rising fuel costs are happening worldwide in the wake of the Ukraine conflict, Nigerian carriers have been hit particularly badly. While Nigeria produces 1.4 million barrels of crude oil a day, it refines almost none and instead imports its jet fuel, paid for with US Dollars.
Globally, airlines are seeing an average 40% increase in operational costs due to rising fuel prices. However, AON claims that Nigerian carriers face a 95% increase in operating expenses.
Dialogue will continue
Talks between Nigerian airlines and the government have remained deadlocked despite numerous attempts to reach a solution over the past few months.
Nigerian carriers are facing higher operating costs and little government support. Photo: Azman Air
Carriers are upset at subsidizing flights since fuel prices have shot up. While passengers pay for fares in the local naira currency, airlines must pay for fuel with US Dollars which has become more expensive as the naira devalues.
Have any of your travel plans been affected by the fuel crisis in Nigeria? How do you think this problem can be solved? Let us know in the comments.
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