No Immediate Solution To Tackle Aviation Crisis, FG Tells Airline Operators

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The Federal Government has said there were no immediate solution to tackle the prolonged crisis rocking the nation’s aviation sector.

The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika disclosed this on Tuesday during an emergency meeting with the Airline Operators Association of Nigeria (AON) in Abuja.

The Minister said the variables impacting the crisis in the aviation sector were beyond the industry’s control.

Sirika said there was no short term solution because of the variables involved especially that it was a global problem.

“Energy crises is real and it is global. Today there is 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 because the source of earning the foreign exchange also has dwindled”, he explained.

He reiterated that the Federal Government had in the past sourced 10,000 metric tonnes of Aviation Fuel for the airlines adding that the government was wiling to do more.

“As we speak, the government is in the process of finding a permanent solution to this issue” he assured.

Some of the solutions he said include: “importation of the product at appropriate price, accelerating the refurbishment of our refineries and also wait for the coming on stream of Dangote Refinery to boost supply of the product.”

Thus he submitted that it cannot be soon. “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 assured.

He also said he will meet with relevant stakeholders including the CBN so the airlines could access dollars at the official market rate rather than the black market rate.

The President, AON, Alh. Abdulmunaf Sarina, said the aviation fuel crises began from N180 per litre and now it’s at N1000 per litre.

He added that the Forex crises was a huge burden on the Industry.

“The rate at which the dollar is escalating now is very alarming. Everyday, a difference between 10-15 Naira is added at the pararrel market. Last week Monday, it was N610 but today, it is N670 to one dollar” he said. He thus called on the Minister to intervene.

On his part, the Vice President, AON, Mr Allen Oyeama said the airline operators were satisfied with the government intervention in the Industry.

“We, the airline operators are satisfied with the approach of the government is bringing to the table. I told you Mr. President in order to alleviate our sufferings approved 10,000MT of fuel.

“Another 5,000 has come in. We are about to start accessing that. We are pleased with the approach for the long run”, he said.

He also agreed that the solution was not in the short term.

“It is not easy to give a timeline to issues like this because the challenge is global. Even the American airlines are threatened too. Its not only Nigeria.  We are pleased so far”, he said.

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