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Aviation fuel scarcity: We have three more days to fly, say airline operators

By Guardian Nigeria
15 March 2022   |   3:05 am
Airline operators in the country, yesterday, said they had only three more days to fly due to the high cost of aviation fuel.

[FILES] Airplane. Photo: PIXABAY

Urge govt to okay fuel licences for operators as NNPC boss weighs option
• Nation has an excess supply of jet fuel, NMDPRA insists
• Court orders Arik Air to pay sacked pilot $126,500 in 30 days

Airline operators in the country, yesterday, said they had only three more days to fly due to the high cost of aviation fuel.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, who spoke on behalf of the operators, said this during a public hearing by the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee investigating the scarcity of aviation fuel in Abuja.

Onyema accused aviation fuel marketers of not speaking the truth about the actual landing cost of aviation fuel, saying if drastic measures were not taken, the least air ticket would go for as high as N120,000.

He said: “If we continue this way, the last ticket you will have is about N120,000. And the marketers have refused to tell us how much the unit cost of their acquisition is.”

He urged the House to give operators of airlines licence to import aviation fuel, saying this would reduce unnecessary burden on the citizenry.

“What we are asking from the government is giving us the right to import aviation fuel. What others use in insuring one plane is what we use in insuring three planes in Nigeria. So, the Nigeria airline is dead on arrival,” he said.

Deputy Speaker of the House, Ahmed Wase, said the committee was only after facts and wanted to protect the interest of Nigerians.

“We are not willing to compromise what is in the interest of our country,” he said

He chided marketers for covering up some facts, saying their analysis is not correct based on facts at the committee’s disposal.

He also queried why some government agencies would not say the truth about the scarcity and the high cost of aviation fuel. “We should be seen to protect the interest of Nigeria and not otherwise,” he said.

He said the committee will ensure that the right thing is done in the interest of the country, adding that the basic tenet of governance remains the welfare of the people.

Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, raised questions on what determines marketers’ prices and why they hoard the product.

He said such actions by marketers were bringing a lot of dysfunction to the country’s economy. “If we are saying that the landing cost of aviation fuel is N450 from the Central Bank of Nigeria, who approved it?” he asked.

He also accused Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited of not identifying persons managing the products.

MEANWHILE, Mr. Ugbugo Ukoha, the Executive Director for Distribution System for Storage and Retailing Infrastructure in the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), said the country has an excess supply of Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK).

This was as NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr. Mele Kyari, said the company will consider granting licenses to airlines operators to import aviation fuel.

Kyari also agreed that aviation fuel would now be sold at N500 per litre, contrary to the current N670 per litre.

ALSO, the National Industrial Court has ordered Arik Air to pay Ratovic Miroslav, a former pilot, 126,500 dollars within 30 days.

The court gave the breakdown of the sum as $57,500 or its naira equivalent as payment of his outstanding salary arrears from September 2016 to March 2017 at the rate of $11,500 per month and the sum of $34,500 or its naira equivalent as three months salary in lieu of notice.

The court computed $34,500, being his three months salary in general damages for the wrongful employment termination.

The sum of N500,000 was also awarded by the court as the cost of the suit in favour of the claimant.

Delivering judgment, Justice Edith Agbakoba, also declared that the termination of the claimant’s employment on March 31, 2017, was wrongful and in breach of the party’s contract of employment.

From facts, the claimant, Miroslav had submitted that he was employed as a pilot by the defendant to fly its B737 NG series Aircraft on July 31, 2007.

In his statement of facts, the claimant further stated his employment was terminated on March 31, 2017.

He averred that the defendant gave the reason on the basis of his “service no longer required” without giving him any prior notice as contained in the letter of appointment.

He said, at this point, the defendant owed him arrears of salary from September 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017.

In defence, the defendant averred that the termination of the claimant’s employment was a result of the takeover of the operations of the firm by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

The defendant, in addition, argued that the takeover by AMCON necessitated a restructuring and reorganisation of the operations of the firm.

Defence, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the claims of Miroslav for being frivolous, contending that the contract of employment was between Arik International S.A (AISA) and not Arik Air Ltd.

The defendant also said that AISA was expected to bear the responsibility for the salaries of the claimant.