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Nigeria moves to end aviation fuel scarcity, seeks CBN concession on exchange rate

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Nigeria on Tuesday said it is working towards resolving the challenges currently facing its aviation sector to halt the dwindling fortune of the industry, which has been hit by flight cancellations and delays due to shortage of Jet A1.

According to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, the government was aware of the challenges facing the sector but noted that there was no immediate solution to the concerns currently.

“An Energy crisis 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 is aggravated also because the foreign exchange is scarce in Nigeria and the source of earning the foreign exchange has also dwindled”.

He said the Federal Government had in the past sourced 10,000 metric tonnes of aviation fuel for domestic airlines, adding that the government was willing to do more.

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

Outlining some of the solutions, the minister said it would include, “importation of the product at the appropriate price, accelerating the refurbishment of our refineries and also wait for the coming on stream of Dangote Refinery to boost the supply of the product.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s naira hits record low of N672/$ on parallel market, falls 0.90% on I&E window

He, however, noted that this would not happen 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 fixed. I wouldn’t know when imports would become sufficient. But the government is working towards all these to happen,” Sirika stated.

The minister said he would meet with relevant stakeholders including the Central Bank of Nigeria so that the airlines could access forex at the official rate rather than the black market price.

Domestic airlines in Nigeria have been faced with a stiff challenge posed by the hike in the price of aviation fuel, popularly called JetA1.

The cost of the commodity has jumped from less than N300/litre to over N800/litre within about five months.

This has also warranted an increase in airfares by airlines that could manage to get the commodity, while others that could not survive the situation, such as Aero Contractors, have temporarily suspended operations.

However, the airlines operating currently have continued to delay or cancel flights due to difficulty in accessing JetA1, a development that has caused untold hardship to travellers.

The President of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Abdulmunaf Sarina, said the aviation fuel crises began from N180/litre but had now jumped to N1000/litre, adding that accessing forex crises was a huge burden on the Industry.

“The rate at which the dollar is escalating now is very alarming. Every day, a difference between of N10 to N15 Naira is added at the parallel market. Last week Monday, it was N610 but today it is N670 to one dollar,” he said.

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