Aviation fuel scarcity paralyse scheduled operations at nation’s airports

Conoil aviation fuel16 July 2014, Lagos – Scarcity of aviation fuel known as Jet A1, has paralysed flight operations in Nigeria, leading to delays and cancellation of flights.

The non-availability of the product which started few days ago, is forcing passengers to wait as long as seven hours before being airlifted, while flights to some destinations were cancelled due to the inability of the airlines to source the product.

This had given rise to increase in fares, which might double by weekend if the scarcity continues as the largest Nigerian operator, Arik Air, has started merging its flights in order to ensure that passengers are taken to their destinations.
A source from one of the domestic airlines said although the scarcity had started biting hard, the airline’s management has good relationship with its vendors so the scarcity would not disrupted its flights.

But that depends on the size of the fleet because Arik that operates over 120 flights daily needs a high volume of the products as its New York, London and Johannesburg flights alone consume over 200, 000 litres of fuel.

Although the airlines are yet to put a finger on the cause of the scarcity as some marketers denied that there was scarcity, but the airlines said  they had not been sourcing fuel easily since last week.

The Deputy Managing Director and Head of Flight Operations, Captain Ado Sanusi, who confirmed the scarcity, said that the airline expends about 150,000 to 200,000 litres of fuel on its domestic and regional operations, making it difficult under the present scarcity to source this volume of the product so the airline decided to ration fuel to ensure it operates and airlifts all its passengers.

Sanusi said “Arik still sources its fuel from the fuel depots in Apapa, Lagos and because of the traffic gridlock in that part of the city, bringing the product to the airport is further delayed by traffic and when it is discharged at its facility it is allowed to settle before the bowsers take the product to the airplanes to fuel.

“This process causes a lot of delay and that explains why flights are delayed for a long time.”

He said the marketers had started increasing the price of the product from about N156 per litre to N160 and called on the authorities concerned to build pipelines from Apapa to the airport so that the traffic jam on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway would be reduced.

Sanusi also said the pipeline would reduce the risk of transporting the product by road in view of the current terror threat in Nigeria, adding that if the product is piped, it would reduce its cost.

“We are rationing our flights because of the scarcity which has lasted seven days. The scarcity has given rise to delay of flights because we make sure we airlift all our passengers. This is why we said that they should build pipelines from Apapa where the fuel is sourced to the airport so that it will be easy to move the product and also prevent a possible attack on these tankers. It will also reduce the traffic gridlock on Apapa road. Flights are delayed because it takes time to get this product and when we empty it in our facility, we allow it to settle before using the bowser to distribute to the aircraft.”

But some oil marketing companies spoken to by THISDAY said that there was no scarcity.
They stated that they have been supplying the airlines promptly.

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