Sirika begs airlines as Ibom Air says not shutting down

Some of Nigeria’s domestic airlines

Some of Nigeria's domestic airlines

The Nigerian Government has appealed to airline operators to reconsider shutting down, saying such action would have multiplier effects on the already “distressed economy”.

Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, made the appeal in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. James Odaudu.

One of the airlines, Ibom Air may already have heeded Sirika’s appeal as it announced that it will not join the planned grounding of all flights on Monday.

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) Friday said its members would suspend flight services due to the unbearable high cost of aviation fuel (JetA1) and other associated costs.

Ibom Airlines said obligations to its customers, suppliers and staff, would not allow it participate in the shutdown.

“Apart from the above factors, Ibom Air is currently the only airline serving Akwa Ibom State directly and as such, any voluntary stoppage of operations would completely cut off access by air into and out of the State,” the statement added.

“Such action would be directly in conflict with and detrimental to the interest of our shareholder.”

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The Minister sympathised with the airlines over their difficulties in procuring aviation fuel.

But he said there is little his ministry could do as aviation fuel does not fall within his purview.

“The attention of the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has been drawn to reports that the nation’s air transportation system will be disrupted as from Monday May 9th, 2022, following threats by airline operators to shut down operations as a result of rising cost of Jet A1, otherwise known as aviation fuel.”

“We also acknowledge that the airline operators are in the business to make profits, while servicing the very critical sector that is not only the preferred mode of transport for most Nigerians, but also the main international gateway to the nation.

“Unfortunately the issue of fuel supply is not within the purview of the Ministry and so the much it can do in the present situation is to engage with agencies, institutions and individuals in positions to provide succour to the airlines. This is already being done by the relevant team led by the Honourable Minister.

“While the efforts to assuage the situation are on, we wish to appeal to the airline operators, even in the difficult situation, to consider the multiplier effect of shutting down operations, on Nigerians and global travellers, in taking their business-informed decisions and actions.

“We also assure Nigerians, especially stakeholders in the sector, that the Buhari administration remains stoic in its commitment to the creation and sustenance of an environment that promotes the growth of the aviation industry where major players like the airlines can operate in a profitable and competitive market.”

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