The JET A1 (aviation fuel) has seen more instances of scarcity this year than the premium motor spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol.
In fact, describing the JET A1 as a perennially scarce fuel in Nigeria is nothing short of the truth, but finding the end to the problem has proven to be as herculean as running an airline in Nigeria.
The JET A1 takes up to 70 per cent of the cost of running an airline in Nigeria yet, the product’s availability presents a bigger challenge than its cost.
In just about six months – February to July, 2016, – the airline service industry has experienced three major bouts of scarcity, throwing the industry in chaos and leaving hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded and millions of man hours lost to the winds.The problem is here again for the third time this year and airlines have issued alerts of disappointments and letters of lamentation. The scarcity of the product became evident last week when oil marketers started rationing the JET A1 supply to airlines, stating limited stock at the depots.
Nigeria’s biggest carrier, Arik Air, at peak of the current scarcity last weekend said that the situation was critical in Lagos and Abuja, its operational hubs, warning that if the situation was not addressed as a priority by the marketers, more flights could be delayed or cancelled. Arik Air remains Nigeria’s the largest consumer of aviation fuel, operating more than 120 daily flights, averaging around 8,500 passengers, with its daily fuel requirement put at about 500,000 liters.
“This means that Arik Air will be most affected by the scarcity and delay by marketers to source and deliver fuel to the airlines,” the airline hinted in a statement recently.
“This also means that half of the airline’s passengers could experience cancelled flights in the next couple of days while the scarcity of the fuel lasted.
“The airline has, therefore, appealed for understanding by passengers as it grapples with the JET A1 scarcity. Where flights are likely to be delayed, the airline will notify passengers through SMS. In case of flights being cancelled due to limited supply of fuel by marketers, passengers will be accommodated on the first available alternative flight at no cost,” the airline spokesman, Ola Adebanji, said in the statement.
Also, Dana Air’s accountable manager, Mr Obi Mbanuzuo, said that the recent delays experienced by customers of the airline due to shortage in fuel supply has not helped its flight services, and regrets the inconveniences caused.
“The recent delays have not really helped our desire and commitment to take our passengers to their destinations on schedule,” he lamented.
However, in seeking solution to the recurrent dearth of aviation fuel, both the airlines and the marketers of the product would need to build a mutual equilibrium, according to experts who have followed the trend very closely.
An aviation industry think-tank, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), did not only blame marketers for their insincerity, but also leaves airline operators with a bill of guilt.
A former Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA) commandant, Ojikutu, who is also currently the principal consultant at Centurion Securities, points at a cabal at the supply chain and maintained that the combined efforts of the airliners to repair the pipelines that bridge aviation fuel from Ejigbo and Mosimi depots to the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA) where about 70 per cent of the product is consumed could bring to an end to the incessant scarcity of the JET A1.
He said, “Just as the marketers are not sincere, the operators too are equally guilty. Ask yourself why there is no PMS scarcity and there is scarcity of kerosene and JET -A1 even when the government has given an open door to whosoever wants to import? There have been evidence that some marketers were selling kerosene as JET-A1, especially where there have been no sufficient established specifications for JET-A1 by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Kerosene and JET-A1 are both cheaper to import than PMS. It cannot be a problem of foreign exchange as importers of other petroleum products are not complaining. What is happening is the work of a cabal in the industry.
“It has been suggested severally that the airlines could repair the pipelines that bridge fuel from Ejigbo and Mosimi to the MMA that consumes 70 per cent of the aviation fuel if the NNPC is not willing to do it. The aim is to reduce the cost of bridging the supply with hundreds of tankers and the cost of demurrage on them at the airports. These are additional costs to the cost of aviation fuel. Unfortunately, the owners of the tankers are very powerful and have allies in government.”
Another way to solve the aviation fuel scarcity problem, according to Ojikutu, who is also a lead member of a forum of aviation industry think-tank, the Aviation Round Table (ART), could be to build a lasting bond with those who own the tankers and the importers of aviation fuel while stopping some owners of the defunct airlines who have airline operation licences (AOLs) but had no aircraft flying, yet have access to aviation fuel and sell at ridiculous prices to operating airlines.
“The cabals are behind the reason why the pipelines that got damaged since 1992 are not repaired and that is a reason why the railway line project by Oando to transport fuel from Apapa to other parts of the country may not come on stream.
Source : Leadership