Following the threat by airline operators to shut down operations, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika and other stakeholders have appealed to them to reconsider their stand because of the multiplier effect such decision would have on the already distressed economy of the country.
The minister also expressed concern “about the difficulties being faced by the airline operators in the country in procuring aviation fuel, which had resulted in spiraling costs in air transportation in the immediate past.”
The minister, in a statement by his special assistant on public affairs, Dr James Odaudu, also noted that there was little he could do as the issue of aviation fuel did not fall within his purview.
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had issued a joint statement on Friday, announcing an indefinite shutdown of operations over the skyrocketing cost of aviation fuel, which has now climbed to N700 per litre.
“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,” the minister stated.
On their part, the House of Representatives, through the chairman, Committee on Aviation, Nnolim Nnaji, also appealed to the association to rescind its decision.
Nnaji regretted that despite the last intervention of the leadership of the House and other relevant committees, the problem remained unabated.
He assured the airlines that his committee and indeed, the House leadership, were not sleeping over their plight.
He disclosed that the House of Reps leadership had already summoned a meeting of stakeholders, including the chairmen of the relevant committees to a meeting on May 9, 2022 to address their matter.
But as the operators threaten to shut down, unions in the aviation industry have also declared a two-day warning strike, which takes place on Monday and Tuesday.
The unions, including the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), directed workers of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NiMET) and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria to embark on the warning strike over the non-implementation of conditions of service.
Ibom Air disagrees with AON, to continue normal operations
In what appears to be a crack among airline operators, one of the domestic airlines, Ibom Air, has distanced itself from the plan to shut down operation on Monday, saying it will continue normal operations.
The airline was included by the AON in its joint statement announcing flight cessation on Monday over increasing cost of Jet A1.
In a statement, Ibom Air noted that it had been inundated with inquiries about what would happen on May 9, 2022 following the public statement issued by the AON executive.
“Every airline has its unique business model and pressures. We believe that in spite of the escalating fuel price, airlines volunteering to stop operations would rather exacerbate an already bad situation,” the airline noted in a statement yesterday.
Meanwhile, the minority caucus in the House of Representatives, while reacting to the planned shutdown, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate steps to avert an situation.
House Minority Leader Ndudi Elumelu said the shutdown would have grave consequences on the economy of the country and national life.