Lagos – A group, the Aviation Round Table (ART), has called for total deregulation of the petroleum sector towards ending the lingering scarcity of Jet A1, popularly called aviation fuel, in the country.
ART’s President, Mr Gbenga Olowo, made the call while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
Olowo said the recent removal of petroleum subsidy by the Federal Government was a step in the right direction, adding that there should be a total deregulation of the sector.
He said, “it is a very good start by the government. Thereafter, market forces will drive price and not the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).”
NAN reports that Nigeria’s domestic airlines have been facing challenges due to the scarcity of aviation fuel in recent times.
The Consumer Protection Department of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had revealed in its 2016 First Quarter Report that domestic airlines recorded 8,478 cases of delayed flights.
The report said a total number of 15,434 flights were operated by eight domestic airlines during the period under review, while 281 flights were cancelled.
On Monday, flight operations of some airlines were disrupted at the Murtala Muhammed Airport 2 (MMA2) and the General Aviation Terminal of the airport in Lagos.
The airlines which included Arik Air, Aero Contractors, Dana, Azman, First Nation and Peace Airline, had to reschedule or cancel most of their flights following their inability to procure aviation fuel for their aircraft.
Arik Air in a statement signed by its Communications Manager, Mr Ola Adebanji, apologised to passengers for the inconvenience, which it blamed on the scarcity of aviation fuel.
The statement said the scarcity, which had been on and off in the past few weeks, had reached an alarming proportion as oil marketers were finding it difficult to cope with the requirements of the airline.
It said: “The scarcity is more pronounced in Lagos and Abuja hubs where a number of flights had to be delayed while awaiting supply of fuel and some were cancelled due to untimely delivery by the marketers.
“Some of the contributing factors to flight delays included, for instance, inadequate and unserviceable bowsers, as well as trucking distance to go back and forth between the depots and the airport.
“Due to the inability of oil marketers to meet our daily fuel requirements because of the number of local, regional and international flights we operate, our operations are most impacted and passengers inconvenienced.
“We, therefore, appeal for the understanding of our guests as all stakeholders continue to find a lasting solution to the problem.” (NAN)