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Don’t shut your operations, Minister appeals to airlines

 

*Says Jet A1 hike not within Aviation Ministry’s purview

Wole Shadare

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has said the supply of aviation fuel, otherwise known as Jet A1, is not within the purview of his ministry, adding that the much it can do in the present situation is to engage with agencies, institutions and individuals in positions to provide succour to the airlines.

This, he said is already being done by the relevant team led by his office to cushion the effects of the high cost of the commodity that has jumped to N700 per litre.

Sirika, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr James Odaudu in a bid to prevail on the airlines to shelve grounding of the operations from Monday, acknowledged that the airline operators are in the business to make profits while servicing the very critical sector that is not only the preferred mode of transport for most Nigerians but also the main international gateway to the nation.

“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.

“We also assure Nigerians, especially stakeholders in the sector, that the Buhari administration remains stoic in its commitment to the creation and sustenance of an environment that promotes the growth of the aviation industry where major players like the airlines can operate in a profitable and competitive market,” Sirika said.

Airline operators, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), had late Friday again issued a threat to down tools next week over the astronomical rise in the price of Jet A1.

The operators had two months ago issued a similar threat; a situation that prompted the National Assembly to wade into what would have led to a major crisis in the aviation industry.

This time around, the group said no commercial airline will fly out of Lagos, Abuja or any other airport in the country because they can no longer absorb the hike in the commodity which has shot up from N170 to about N700 and now accounts for 95% of their costs.

 

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