Director of Consumer Protection Directorate, Adamu Abdullahi says the scarcity of aviation fuel would continue until the government begins to refine the product locally. He spoke to Chinedu Eze. Excerpts:
From your own experience, what is the reaction of the passengers over this protracted aviation fuel scarcity, known as Jet A1?
Okay, let me talk from my own personal experience. Yesterday I had Dana Air booking by 6:30 pm to Lagos from Abuja. As at 2:00 pm the flight was moved from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. I was at the airport by 6:00 pm, waiting for my flight. Around 7:00 pm I got another message from the public speaker system at the airport that the flight had been moved to 9:00 pm. So I didn’t have a choice, I had to wait because I knew it was beyond the power of the airline.
What is happening is that there is aviation fuel shortage in the country. Since government decided to deregulate the importation of fuel, it also affected the importation of Jet A1 and therefore the product is scarce. We don’t refine it locally. Kaduna and Warri refineries used to refine Jet A1 in this country and they don’t do so anymore. Now we depend solely on importation.
So for oil markers to go to the black market and buy dollar at N380 per dollar, it is very, very expensive and by the time you bring your product to the country it is no longer economically viable. As you know, aviation fuel constitutes about 70 to 75 per cent of cost of the ticket you buy. So by the time the cost of aviation is added to the ticket we are in trouble. So airlines are doing business at a very, very expensive rate because their major cost of operation, which is aviation fuel has gone up by over 150 percent.
So if you buy aviation fuel at N200 per litre to operate. It is too expensive. So what we are experiencing now is that marketers are not willing to go ahead and import fuel at that price. We are already paying about 50 percent more on our ticket prices. By the time it gets worse that we would pay N50, 000 for one-hour flight in Nigeria that is when we are going to really experience difficulties.
What we are saying is that passengers have to really calm down and understand what the airlines are facing, in the same manner that we went to filling stations and queued for upward of 24 hours to get fuel. That is what is happening in the aviation industry today. It is beyond the power of the airline, it is beyond the power of the Nigerian