Airlines stop operation due to fuel shortages

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As a result of the near total scarcity of aviation fuel to run the aircraft of the various domestic carriers, thousands of air travellers were left stranded across airports in Nigeria on Saturday.

The two largest domestic carriers in Nigeria, Arik Air and Aero Contractors, cancelled all their flights in Nigeria as a result of the scarcity of JetA1, otherwise known as aviation fuel.

At the Abuja airport, many passengers, who arrived the Abuja airport with the intention of travelling out of the city, had their flights cancelled.

Frustrated by the development, many of them left the airport in anger.

“Surely, Buhari has loads of work to do because this country is almost drowning economically and otherwise, especially when both Nigerian citizens and foreigners are trapped in one location due fuel or JetA1 scarcity,” were the words of a visibly angry traveller at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, who gave his name as Dr. Gandi Bello.

Our correspondent learnt that the situation may not improve anytime soon because of the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by tanker drivers across the country.

Tanker drivers bring JetA1 to a designated station for airlines for collection. The strike has made it impossible to get the product at the designated collection outlet.

Spokespersons of Arik and Aero said that fuel scarcity would not have affected the airlines if the country had pipelines which deliver JetA1 to airports, as is obtainable in other climes.

Banji Ola of Arik Air, said the airline cancelled its domestic flights nationwide, but was still operating international flights.

“We had to cancel our domestic flights because of lack of aviation fuel to run the aircraft. Our international flights are still running. We had a case of an international flight to London travelling to Kano to refuel before heading for its destination.”

Aero Contractors spokesperson, Simon Tumba, stated that the airline’s flights were also cancelled due to aviation fuel challenges.

After series of enquiries, the airline, in a statement made available to our correspondent, said, “Due to the general scarcity of aviation fuel (JetA1) in the country, the airline (Aero) will not be able to operate over 80 per cent of her domestic flights as scheduled.

“In the last few weeks, the supply of aviation fuel has been very irregular, which has compelled the airline to cancel some flights. We apologise to our esteemed customers for the inconvenience they may have been experiencing due to flight delays and cancellations caused by the scarcity of aviation fuel.”

The airline’s reaction showed that it was also unsure of some future flights of its customers and urged prospective travellers on Aero to confirm their trips online.

It said, “We urge our customers to always check our website or contact the call centre agent to affirm if their scheduled flight will operate.

“Aero regrets any inconvenience the changes will cause. All measures are being made to ameliorate the situation and revert to her regular flight schedule. We hope that the situation improves very soon.”

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