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Passengers stranded as aviation fuel scarcity grounds flights


Hall of the domestic terminal, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos

Hall of the domestic terminal, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos

Lingering scarcity of aviation fuel, known as JetA1, yesterday took a harsh turn, leaving the industry reeling and almost all outbound flights in Lagos cancelled and thousands of passengers stranded.

Hordes of passengers that had thronged the local wing of Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA2) and General Aviation Terminal (GAT), as early as 6am, had their hopes dashed.

Perhaps due to antics of the operators or sheer hope that the scarce product would arrive to enable the planes fly, most of the scheduled flights were severally postponed till they were all cancelled in the evening.

Except for Arik Air and the likes of First Nation, Medview and Dana Air that offered skeletal services in the afternoon, all other airlines cancelled their flights, much to the pain of customers.

An Uyo-bound passenger, Abigail, was among those Nigerians that had their day ruined due to the development. Abigail told The Guardian that she had being at the MMA2 since 6:30am to catch the Dana flight to Uyo.

“They started by not telling us anything, but after several hours of waiting, they announced that the flight had been delayed till 1pm. As if that was not enough, 2pm came, there was nothing, only to announce at 4pm that the flight had been cancelled.”

It would be recalled that The Guardian had last week reported that the local airlines were running at 50 per cent short of aviation fuel due to the scarcity.

General Manager of CITA Aviation Fueling Limited, Thomas Ogungbangbe, at the opening of a stakeholders’ forum on the fuel challenge, said that of about two million litres aviation fuel required daily, only half now gets to the operators.

The Guardian gathered that Jet A1 in the last couple of months had constituted between 40 and 50 per cent of the airlines’ direct operating costs, with untold effect on the performance and profit of domestic airline operators.

But for better part of the yesterday, almost all outbound flights were cancelled.
Air Peace Airline, in one fell swoop cancelled five flights at 4:43pm. Passengers listened in disbelief as a voice came via the public addressing system informing that the flights to Port Harcourt; Abuja (two); Owerri and Enugu have all been cancelled.

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