Connect with us

NEWS

Reps, NNPC intervene as flight cancellations leave passengers stranded

Published

on

The House of Representatives on Monday continued its intervention in the crisis in the aviation sector over the rising cost of Aviation Turbine Kerosene, popularly called aviation fuel.

The rising cost of aviation fuel has resulted in over-crowded airports, as airlines reschedule and cancel flights at short notice, leaving passengers stranded.

The current price of aviation fuel is N670/litre and this cost has led to a crisis in the sector such as flight delays and cancellations due to the inability of airlines to easily access the commodity at that cost.

At the second investigative hearing by the House held in Abuja, domestic airlines under the Airline Operators of Nigeria disclosed that at the current price of N670/litre, a seat in the economy class should go for about N120,000.

They also threatened to suspend flight operations in the next three days (by Thursday), arguing that airlines could not continue to subsidise flights any longer.

The Federal Government, airline operators and oil marketers have agreed to peg the price of the commodity at N500/litre pending the resolution of the rising price crisis of the commodity.

On Monday that several passengers had spent nights at airports due to delayed and outright cancellation of flights by airlines over lack of aviation fuel.

Our correspondents gathered that some passengers of Dana Air and Aero Contractors slept at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on Sunday night after their flights were delayed for several hours.

“Some of us had to sleep at the Abuja airport because we landed around 1am on Monday, after our 7.30pm Sunday flight from Lagos was delayed for several hours till close to 12midnight before taking off,” a passenger of Aero Contractors, who simply gave his name as Okey, stated.

The passenger said the airline claimed that the cost of aviation fuel had made it tough for operators to access the commodity and that the issue warranted flight delays and cancellations.

Another passenger of Dana Air, who identified himself as Stanley, also slept at the Abuja airport after his flight from Lagos was delayed for more than six hours due to the challenge of aviation fuel.

“You need to see the rancour at the departure lounge in Lagos by passengers who crowded the lounge due to delayed and rescheduled flights,” he stated on Monday in Abuja.

For about two weeks, airlines and travellers in Nigeria had been faced with hectic aviation activities. Operators in the sector had blamed this on the hike in aviation fuel, while marketers, on the other hand, insisted that the commodity was available.

Marketers attributed the hike in the price of aviation fuel to the rising cost of crude oil in the international market, as they noted that the commodity had been deregulated.

Airlines had been unable to cope with the cost of the commodity, as aviation fuel price rose from N200/litre about three weeks ago to between N590 and N607/litre last week.

It was learnt that virtually all domestic airlines at the Lagos airport announced an indefinite rescheduling of their morning flights, a development that left many passengers stranded across airports in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had on Thursday said it might be forced to ground some aeroplanes over the inability of local airlines to maintain them due to the rising cost of JetA1, also called aviation fuel.

The authority stated that the hike in aviation fuel price had led to a spike in the cost of the operations of airlines.

This came as the Airline Operators of Nigeria stated that with the price of aviation fuel increasing from N190 to N670/litre, they might be forced to suspend flights nationwide.

The flight disruptions on Monday made many passengers at various airports to make alternative arrangements, either to travel by road or halt their trips.

They decried the crisis in the aviation sector and urged the government to intervene considering the significance of the industry to the country’s economy.

Economy class ticket may hit N85,000

Meanwhile, during the investigative hearing by the House in Abuja on Monday, domestic airlines under the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) again threatened to shut down operations this week over skyrocketing aviation fuel price and demanded licences from the government to begin ATK importation.

The threat forced the Deputy Speaker of the House, Ahmed Wase; Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari; Chairman of Air Peace and Vice-President of the AON, Allen Onyeama; Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Olumide Adeosun; and Chairman, Depot and Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, among others, to hold an emergency meeting-within-meeting discussion.

Emerging from the meeting, Wase asked the NNPC boss to read out the resolution reached by the stakeholders.

Kyari said, “We know this is a very difficult situation. We know that once aviation fuel increases, prices of flight tickets will certainly increase and this can surely cause pains for Nigerians. That is why we are working with you to ensure that those pains are minimised to the barest minimum. And one of the elements is the pricing of aviation fuel.

“So, what we have engaged with MOMAN, DAPMAN and the airline operators is that in three days’ time, their representatives will sit down and agree on a transparent base for pricing. That means that they ought to have a referenced benchmark that is quoted transparently in the market.

“They will have a referenced exchange rate for the naira so that everyone can compete. They will also agree on a premium, which currently differs from customer to customer, depending on the volume you buy and the credit level.

“These are the things they can negotiate in three days and close, so that going forward, there is a transparent decision on pricing. This will no doubt throw up the actual value of the product in the market. You will no longer see these discrepancies we have seen where some people are selling at N445 and some are selling at N630. This will completely close, such that you will not see these differences.”

The GMD of the NNPC also disclosed that the meeting agreed that in the interim, “between now and the three days that they have to close negotiations, they will sell at N500 in the next three days and after that, they will switch to the new price that everyone can access.”

Kyari noted that the lowest price seen as of Monday morning was N445 while some marketers sold the commodity for as high as N630 “and we don’t think this is normal and so, we discounted it.”

He added, “Lastly, as requested by the Airline Operators of Nigeria, they will be granted a licence by the authority to import petroleum products, particularly ATK, so that they can have a way of benchmarking the sales of other customers and can also bring in cheaper products whenever it is possible.”

Adopting the resolutions on behalf of the AON, Onyeama noted that at N500/litre, “our unit cost per seat will now be about N85,000, barely insurance and other things; that is our pain.”

He said, “I wish we could buy this fuel at N200 so that Nigerians can afford to buy it. That is our predicament. And so, the public should understand if there is a shift in what they are paying now and what they are going to pay later.

“Anybody can calculate it just as it has been done here, to buy 8,000 litres of fuel at N500/litre. How much will that give you for just a one-hour flight?”

Adopting the resolutions on behalf of MOMAN, Adeosun stated that “the last thing any marketer wants is to create a situation where the general public has to pay far beyond what they can afford for any product.”

He added, “The resolution that we reached today is one that is attainable and we look forward to working with our colleagues in the aviation sector so that we can have an efficient sector for Nigerians.”

Licence modular refineries, end scarcity, price hike – Marketers

Earlier, MOMAN had urged the Federal Government to issue licences to modular refineries, saying they had the capacity to end aviation fuel shortage and price fluctuation.

The marketers also blamed the hike in price on forex scarcity and high exchange rate, urging the Central Bank of Nigeria to subsidise the rates for aviation fuel importation.

Adeosun said, “That is the market adjusting to a steep drop in market conditions that are outside of the Nigerian market. There are some very easy things that we can discuss there. Do you know that there are refineries in Nigeria today that produce ATK? Do you know why we cannot sell that ATK?

“We cannot sell that ATK today because they are not licensed and they have to be licensed. Every modular refinery that produces diesel produces ATK. But they cannot sell today because the refineries are not certified. And it is absolutely critical that the ATK that is produced in Nigeria must be priced in Nigeria.”

At N670 per litre, minimum air ticket should be N120,000 – Airlines

However, the AON, through Onyeama, condemned the marketers for refusing to disclose the actual amount they buy aviation fuel.

Onyeama said, “I have the mandate of every airline in this country to announce to you that if they cannot come down from their rooftop, we have only three more days to be able to fly. We are not threatening this country. We have been subsidising what we are doing.

“I will give you the rate as of today, at N630, N640, N650/litre, we have an aircraft going to Kano that has about 7,000 litres of fuel on it. Multiply it by N630. The unit cost per seat already is about N70,000 per seat. You have not talked about the insurance that is very static and Nigerians pay a lot of insurance premiums because this country is stigmatised.”

He added, “You have to insure in London and other places abroad. It is a loss. All the insurance companies in Nigeria put together cannot even insure one aircraft. So, you have to go abroad to insure and they slam us with heavy premiums. What we use in insuring one plane is what the legacy airlines of this world use in insuring about three planes. So, the Nigerian airline is dead on arrival.

“Yet, the fuel cost which was supposed to be about 30 to 40 per cent (of operational costs) in every other clime in the world, in Nigeria it is about 70 per cent even before this time (of scarcity). So, you can now see the mortality rate of airlines in this country and the causes.”

The Air Peace boss challenged the marketers to disclose the actual price of aviation fuel, saying, “They have refused to answer your simple question. Whether you got money from the CBN or from the black market, how much is the unit cost of your acquisition so that we know if the airlines are cheating you or you are cheating the airlines, or if you have formed a cartel to increase your prices overnight.”

Onyeama stated, “From what is happening if we continue this way, the cheapest ticket you will expect from airlines will be about N120,000 for Economy (Class). And we don’t want to do that because it will not help the ordinary man.

“I have the mandate of airlines to inform the House that we are now demanding that we should be given a licence to import this fuel. If we can buy jets that cost about $80m, we can afford to import this fuel. Let the NNPC give us the right to import fuel and we will not complain to you.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

NEWS

2023: Buhari may meet Osinbajo, Tinubu, Amaechi, others

Published

on

President Muhammadu Buhari would this week meet with all the preidential aspirants of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The meeting was called with a view to reducing the number of presidential hopefuls and also ensuring that all of them pledge to accept the outcome of the primary as was done during the APC presidential primary in 2014.

“The President will meet with the aspirants a few days to the primary with a view to ensuring that there is unity and harmony. He will also meet with the governors separately. The date is not fixed yet, but it should be this week if INEC doesn’t extend the deadline for the primary as we are all hoping,” said an APC chieftain who wished to remain anonymous.

“The President has a candidate. How to present the idea to the likes of Tinubu will be the challenge,” he added.

Buhari’s most senior spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, had said last week that the President indeed had a preferred candidate.

He stated, “In a previous interview when the President was asked whether he had a favourite candidate, he answered yes; but he will not mention him because mischief may happen to that person.

“That shows you that the President himself is interested in the process and he has a preferred candidate; but whether he will impose his candidate is what you cannot determine at the moment.”

When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said he was not aware of any meeting the President would be having with the aspirants.

“I am not aware of any meeting as of now,” he said.

Continue Reading

NEWS

Gunmen behead abducted Anambra lawmaker from Governor Soludo’s constituency, hang head in motor park

Published

on

Gunmen who abducted a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Okey Okoye, have beheaded him.

After beheading him, his head was reportedly displayed at a motor park in Nnobi, Idemili South Local Government Area of the state.

The incident, which happened on Saturday, created panic in the community, which had been witnessing a series of violent killings since last year.

Sources added that his body was not there and indications were that the killers removed the body.

“The Anambra lawmaker representing Soludo’s constituency, Okechukwu Okoye who was earlier kidnapped, has been beheaded by gunmen; the late lawmaker’s head was mounted at Chisco Park in Amichi community,” a military source said on Saturday.

Gunmen had last Sunday abducted the lawmaker who was representing Aguata II state constituency in Aguata alongside Cyril Chiegboka, his campaign director.

Governor Charles Soludo had said during the week that efforts were ongoing to rescue the Anambra lawmaker from his abductors.

Continue Reading

NEWS

MC Oluomo allegedly demands N100million to support re-election of Oshodi Rep member

Published

on

Chairman of the Lagos State Parks Management Committee, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly called MC Oluomo, is allegedly demanding N100 million to support the re-election of the member representing Oshodi Federal Constituency 1 in the House of Representatives, Hon. Bashiru Dawodu.

Dawodu, a medical doctor, rode on the back of MC Oluomo to win the election in 2019 after series of attempts in the past.

Dawodu presenting his Certificate of Return to MC Oluomo

Both, however, fell apart few months after Dawodu was elected due to irreconcilable differences .

MC Oluomo is said to be angry with Dawodu for not honouring agreements he (Dawodu) had with him prior to his victory in 2019.

MC Oluomo, who is seen as de-facto leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oshodi was said to have vowed to work against Dawodu’s re-election in 2023.

He is believed to be working for the emergence of a former Chairman of Oshodi/Isolo Local Government, Afeez Ipesa Balogun to emerge as the APC’s candidate for the House of Representatives election in the constituency.

However, party leaders in the local government including the Chairman of the council, Kehinde Oloyede Almoof had appealed to MC Oluomo to tone down his opposition to Dawodu and support his re-election.

It was gathered that MC Oluomo did not turn down the fence-mending approach because he said he did the same with Oloyede who was his former arch-enemy.

It was further gathered that MC Oluomo demanded N100 million from Dawodu before he gets his support.

The money according to MC Oluomo is to settle his aides and loyalists, who supported Dawodu in 2019 but were abandoned by the Rep member.

According to sources at the various fence-mending meeting, appeals to MC Oluomo to reduce the amount were rebuffed.

Another dimension has, however, been added to the involvement of Oloyede in the matter.

The sources revealed that the council chairman, Oloyede is supporting Dawood because of his own interest.

Oloyede has been eyeing the Rep seat before his election as the council chairman.

Oloyede’s calculation according to the sources is that should Dawood gets the second term, it would be easy for him (Oloyede) to contest for the seat in 2027.

One of the sources who does not want his name in print because of backlash said : “Oloyede is supporting Dawood because of his own personal interest. He believes supporting Dawood may work for him in 2027.

Continuing, the source noted that Oloyede would rather support Dawodu over any other candidates because others eyeing the seat are first timers, who may want to seek for re-election in 2027.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Latest News

Advertisement

Trending