Stakeholders Blame Aviation Fuel Scarcity on Poor Logistics, Delays in Shipment of Petroleum Products

Chinedu Eze

Industry stakeholders have attributed the current scarcity of aviation fuel to poor logistics and late arrival of ships bringing the petroleum products to Nigeria.

Such delays in the shipment of aviation fuel, also known as Jet A1, have disrupted flight operations in Nigeria, and have brought pains and disappointments to air travelers in Nigeria.

THISDAY learnt that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) had ordered for the products but many of the ships bringing the products were yet to berth at the seashores of Nigeria. For the few that have berthed, it will take another four days for the product to start arriving at the airports due to poor logistics.

Ex-Managing Director of Arik Air and currently the CEO of Cleanserve Energy Limited, an oil marketing company that supplies aviation fuel to airlines, Chris Ndulue, told THISDAY that NNPC had ordered petroleum products with priority given to petrol but many of the ships were yet to berth, noting that one ship ought to have berthed last week but there was no indication that it had arrived Nigeria; otherwise, there could have been some relief.

He said the delays were caused by poor logistics, adding that his company has not had the product for some time.

According to Ndulue, “We expected that one of the cargos brought in by NNPC, which has preference for PMS (petrol), would bring some relief to Nigerians, but we are yet to experience any relief. Some of the ships should be berthing by now. The first one was supposed to come last week, but I think it is being delayed because of poor logistics. When the ship berths it takes four days for the product to be distributed and arrive at the airports. At some point last week I thought it has come, but I think as time goes on there will be a relief.”

Ndulue also remarked that the upsurge in passenger traffic at the airports would diminish after December 24 and pick up again from January 2, 2023.

“By Saturday, December 24, the season will be over. Flights will reduce from December 25, and there will be skeletal services,” he said.

The former Managing Director of Arik Air wondered how a country that has many refineries and has risen to become an oil producing nation, could be importing petroleum products and regretted that this did not start today, having lasted for many years. He added that every new government that has come on board followed the same pattern of importing petroleum products.

“We cannot be talking about importing and shipping petroleum products, but this has been happening from year to year. I think it is high time we put an end to this. It is not something we should even be talking about,” he further said.

Spokesman for Air Peace, Stanley Olise also told THISDAY that the scarcity of the petroleum products, especially aviation fuel, have disrupted flights, a situation, he said, had remained an industry-wide challenge that has affected all the airlines. He said the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) issued statement, warning travellers to brace up because there could be disruptions in the flights, occasioned by scarcity of aviation fuel.

“The scarcity of aviation fuel is affecting us. AON issued a statement, alerting travellers and warning them of possible flight delays and disruptions. It is biting hard on us. This is industry wide problem. Everybody is affected,” Olise said.

Part of the statement issued by AON read, “The scarcity will no doubt force airlines to reschedule flights leading to late operations and, or, cancellations. This unintended development is a pain on airline operators and a stain on the industry, especially at this time of mass movement of people for the Christmas and New Year festivities. The scarcity will no doubt force airlines to reschedule flights leading to late operations and or cancellations.

“This unintended development is a pain on airline operators and a stain on the industry, especially at this time of mass movement of people for the Christmas and New Year festivities,” the statement further.”

AON also addressed the passengers and said, “We will do our utmost best to manage the situation and ensure safe flight operations, we plead for the understanding of the traveling public in this circumstance.”

AON also called on the concerned authorities, including product importers and marketers to do their best to resolve the ugly situation so as to ease the stress it brings on the travelling public.

“As Airline Operators, we remain committed to doing all that is necessary to ensure seamless services and safe air travels in our dear country,” the statement further said.

THISDAY observed on Tuesday and Wednesday that besides delays caused by harmattan haze, major flight delays were caused by aviation fuel scarcity.

Spokesman of Dana Air, Kingsley Ezenwa, said that the airline has been able to operate its flights to various destinations and noted that over the years the airline has developed good relationship with fuel marketers, a development, he said, had enabled the airline to source and get aviation fuel at any time.

He said beside the delays caused by weather, it has been operating its flights according to schedule.

THISDAY also learnt that airlines that operate more destinations and have more aircraft in their fleet face the challenge of high volume demand of the product and this makes sourcing the product relatively more difficult for them.

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