Nigeria’s major carrier, Arik Air, has announced that it is grappling with flight schedule disruptions due to the severe scarcity of aviation fuel, known as Jet A1 across the country.
The airline said since the beginning of this year, Nigeria has been grappling with inadequate supply of aviation fuel, leading in most cases to severe shortage of the product and consequently the disruption of flight operations.
“For the past week, the airline had to face another round of aviation fuel scarcity which got worse over last weekend leading to many flight delays and cancellations,” the airline said in a statement signed by its spokesman, Adebanji Ola.
Arik said it operates an average of 120 flights daily which require about 500,000 litres of fuel daily due to the large number of domestic and international flights it operates, so it is the most impacted by the inability of oil marketers to meet its daily fuel requirements on a timely and consistent basis.
“This has forced the airline to postpone flights while waiting for the fuel marketers to source and deliver the product. On many occasions, despite all efforts in engaging the marketers if fuel could not be sourced, the flights may eventually be cancelled causing not only revenue loss for the airline but also inconveniencing or stranding the passengers.
“Arik Air has identified supply and infrastructural challenges of the marketers as some of the key factors responsible for the epileptic supply of aviation fuel. At the root of the fuel supply crisis is low stock due to the inability of marketers to source for the foreign exchange to import more Jet A1 fuel into the country,” the airline said.
It also pointed out that there is also a distribution challenge as the discharging of vessels bringing Jet A1 and other petroleum products are done in the same jetty and loading various trucks for distribution to cities like Kano or Abuja takes considerable effort and time.
“The situation in the North is even more difficult since the product takes longer to be delivered due to the trucking distance. Oil marketers have also resorted to trucking of aviation fuel to the airports because hydrants are not consistently available at the airports,” the airline said.
However, Arik has disclosed that it is working on a longer term plan which would be finalised in the coming months to mitigate this situation and to be in a better position to address such supply shortages and delays.
“While the federal government and oil marketers are working hard to address the supply and distribution challenges, we appeal to our guests to bear with us as they may experience flights delays and cancelations because of the prevailing scarcity of aviation fuel across the country,” it said.
But marketers have assured stakeholders that the situation would improve this week as they are expecting delivery of additional stock.
“Where flights are likely to be delayed or cancelled, Arik Air will notify passengers through SMS and do all possible to accommodate passengers on the first available alternate flight,” the airline assured.