Arik Air has scaled down its flights due to the lingering scarcity of JET A1 (aviation fuel).
The airline Communications Manager, Mr. Ola Adebanji, said that aviation fuel scarcity started manifesting last week when major oil marketers began to ration the supply of the product to airlines.
It said: “With a daily fuel need of about 500,000 liters and an average of over 100 daily flights, Arik Air is mostly affected by this scarcity which is the fourth this year alone.
“One of the airline’s flights to Johannesburg on Tuesday had to be routed via Port Harcourt to pick up fuel.
“As a result of the worsening supply situation of aviation fuel, Arik Air has announced the further reduction in flights from Nov. 16 to cope with the fresh scarcity.”
According to the airline, the reduction will reduce unpleasant flight delays and cancellations which passengers have experienced in recent times.
It said that an oil marketer issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) on Saturday, alerting of non-availability of the product in Lagos.
Arik Air added that another marketer said it was running out of the product in Lagos with limited supplies in Port Harcourt and Abuja.
“This development has started taking its toll on Arik Air due to the airline’s large-scale operations, with flights being delayed across the country and, in some cases, cancelled especially for airports without airfield lighting.”
It appealed for the understanding of its customers whose flights were likely to be affected by the scarcity and scaling down of operations.
It said that would notify passengers through SMS or email messages in a situation where flights would be delayed or cancelled due to the scarcity.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Capt. Hadi Sirika, had at the weekend, assured stakeholders in the sector that the government was making efforts to address the scarcity.
Sirika said that the long-term target of the government was to ensure local production of aviation fuel to make the product easily available for airline operators.
Meanwhile, the Major Oil Marketers Association, MOMAN, has blamed shortage of Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK), to inability of marketers to access foreign exchange to augument importation of petroleum products.
The marketers, said that the situation has also defeated the Government’s intention of making Nigeria the aviation hub of the sub-region.
Chief executives of major oil marketers who met recently to review the downstream sub-sector of the oil industry noted that non allocation of Foreign Exchange to bring in petroleum products prompted the intermittent tightness in the supply of aviation fuel to airlines.
According to a communique issued at the end of the meeting and signed by Thomas Obafemi Olawore, Executive Secretary/CEO MOMAN, said “It is a statement of fact that there is serenity in the supply of petroleum situation in the country and appreciation must be given to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the NNPC and all other stakeholders including transporters, dealers and OMCs”.
The communique further said, “We note that there are some few glitches here and there and we call on the regulatory agencies to face these challenges with a view to nipping all nefarious activities associated with supply and distribution in the bud.
Unknown to the general public, the private sector has depended on foreign exchange supplied into the system by the IOCs through the intervention of the Hon. Minister of State Petroleum Resources. In order for the private sector to continue to play their role in the importation of PMS the Dollar/Naira parity should stay at a level that will ensure that the open market price band of N135 – N145 is maintained.
This is especially so because the CIF price of petrol is rising in the international market. Today it is approximately $548 per ton.