Brace up for flight delays, cancellations, airlines warn travellers

Airline operators, yesterday, warned the travelling public to prepare for imminent flight delays and cancellations over a fresh bout of aviation fuel scarcity.

The operators, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), said the perennial scarcity had returned and most likely would disrupt operations as Christmas approaches.

The Guardian had reported that another round of airfare hikes was looming this festive season, alongside a high probability of flight delays and cancellations nationwide.
Besides the harmattan haze expected to disrupt operations, the high cost of operations, especially aviation fuel crossing the N800/litre mark, has raised fares to N150,000 on one-way (economy class) – subject to seat availability.

As at the last check, a litre of Jet A1 was sold in Lagos at N810, Abuja (N825), Port Harcourt (N828) and Kano (N840).Chairman of United Nigeria Airline (UNA), Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, said besides exorbitant rates, Jet-A1 has been in short supply in the last couple of days.
Okonkwo said the scarcity would certainly force airlines to reschedule flights leading to late operations and, or, cancellations.

“This unintended development is a pain for airline operators and a stain on the industry, especially at this time of mass movement of people for the Christmas and New Year festivities.
“While we do our utmost best to manage the situation and ensure safe flight operations, we plead for the understanding of the travelling public in the circumstance,” he said.

He also called on the concerned authorities, including product importers and marketers, to do their best to resolve this situation to ease the stress on the travelling public.

Chief Operations Officer of one of the airlines confirmed that the perennial problem of a hike in cost and fuel scarcity still throb the industry despite quietude from operators.

“Nothing has been resolved, but we are learning to cut our coats according to our clothes. That explains why tickets are above N70,000 and N80,000. At that, we are still heavily subsidising the rates not to pass the entire burden to the travelling public that is also struggling. We all are feeling the pinch but we expect the best during the festive season,” he said.

A fuel marketer, however, denied the scarcity of the product at major airports, especially Lagos.

“I can assure you that there is fuel for airlines that are ready to pay for it. The old practice that the airlines have been used to is to rack up credit bills on fuel and pay when it is convenient for them.
“But that is changing. Marketers are supplying to only airlines that are willing to pay immediately. Let the airlines leverage more on their relationships with their marketers and everyone will be fine,” he said.


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