The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has stressed that there are no short-term solutions to the crises currently affecting Nigeria’s aviation sector following the high cost of aviation fuel known as ‘Jet-A1’.
Speaking during an emergency meeting with the Airline Operators Association of Nigeria (AON) in Abuja, Sirika said the crisis was not peculiar to Nigeria alone but also affects America, New Zealand and other countries.
According to him, the variables impacting the crises in the aviation sector are beyond the industry’s control and, thus, there is no immediate solution.
“There is no short-term solution because of the variables involved, especially [given] that it is a global problem.
“Energy crises are real and global. Today, there is an aviation fuel problem all over the world, from America to New Zealand. It is aggravating in Nigeria because we don’t produce the product. It’s aggravated also because the foreign exchange is scarce in Nigeria and the earning has dwindled,” he explained.
Sirika restated that the Federal Government had, in the past, sourced 10,000 metric tonnes of fuel for the airlines, adding that the government is willing to do more.
The minister assured that the government is finding a permanent solution to the issues.
Some of the solutions, he said, include the importation of the product at an appropriate price, accelerating the refurbishment of our refineries and also waiting for the coming onstream of Dangote Refinery to boost the supply of the product.
“So, when you ask ‘how soon?’ I wouldn’t know when Dangote will come on stream. I wouldn’t know how soon the refineries will be filled. I wouldn’t know when imports would become sufficient. But the government is working towards all these to happen,” he said.
Sirika promised to meet with relevant stakeholders, including the CBN, so that the airlines can access dollars at the official market rate rather than the black-market rate.
In his response, the AON president, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Sarina, lamented that the aviation fuel rose from N180 per litre to N1,000 per litre, adding that the forex crisis is a huge burden on the industry.
“The rate at which the dollar is escalating now is very alarming. Every day, a difference between N10-15 is added to the parallel market. Last week Monday, it was N610 but today, it is N670 to a dollar,” he said.
Sarina called on the minister to intervene and take more steps to handle the challenges facing the aviation sector in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the AON vice president, Mr. Allen Oyeama, expressed satisfaction with the government’s intervention in the industry.