The rise in foreign exchange is threatening the continuity of aviation operation in Nigeria, according to the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Vice Chairman, and Air Peace founder, Allen Onyema.
The businessman explained that the appreciation of the dollar against naira had made the purchase of aviation fuel too expensive for airline operators to afford, and this could eventually lead to the closure of their businesses.
Onyeama made this statement during the National Aviation Conference (FNAC) organised by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) on Wednesday, where he disclosed the difficulties of the Nigerian aviation industry amid rise in global oil price.
He said airlines were already shutting down outside Nigeria, and if nothing was done to curb the hike in forex rate, the cost of Jet A1 would see domestic airlines share the same fate with those operating beyond the shores of the country.
Ripples Nigeria had earlier reported that dollar exchanged at N420 to $1 in the official market, but in the black market, where many Nigerians buy forex, the U.S currency traded against the naira at N616/$1.
Although, Onyeama admitted that there was little to what the government could do to avert the cost of aviation fuel from rising. The price is said to have skyrocketed from N200 to about N750 per litre at some local airports in Nigeria.
However, the Air Peace founder said airline operators were buying it cheaper in Lagos, at N580 per litre, while the price outside the former capital state is around N607 per litre. This is the price Nigerian government is selling the 10,000 metric tonnes of Jet A1 to airlines.
”That is why we ran to the government and the Federal Government has given us about 10,000 metric tonnes of fuel at the cost of N580 per litre in Lagos and about N607 per litre outside Lagos.” Onyeama said, talking about the price situation and availability of aviation fuel.
He added, “Some airlines outside Nigeria have closed down because of the effects of rising aviation fuel. If these things are not addressed in Nigeria, it can affect the bottom line of airlines in Nigeria.
”We have come to realise that there is little or nothing the committee set up can do because this is as a result of foreign exchange and the price of oil all over the world.
“The fuel marketers will sell according to what they are paying. The cost of aviation fuel has increased, even in London and other country. Our own is worse because of the increase in foreign exchange.”