Aviation Fuel, Fare: Balami Proffers Solution, Tells Govt What to Do
- The Nigerian aviation sector is currently going through one of its worst moments in the history of Nigeria
- Experts attribute the recent shortcomings plaguing the aviation sector to the upward rise in the dollar rate
- However, an aviation expert, Comrade Isaac Balami said Nigeria have to give room for local refineries to start working effectively
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Former President of Nigeria’s Aircraft Pilots and Engineers and Chief Executive Officer of 7 Stars Global Hanger and 7 Stars Global Airline, Comrade Isaac Balami has reacted to the current scarcity of aviation fuel.
Balami, in an interview with Legit.ng also suggested measures to be put in place in order to avert any likely incursion and security breach in the aviation sector.
Recall that Nigeria’s aviation sector is currently being faced with a major fuel crisis as the cost of aircraft fuel has gone unimaginably high.
Jet A1 fuel that was earlier sold for N190 per litre is now sold for N714 per litre. This development has resulted in a strong protest from airline owners and operators who had threatened to shut down the sector in the early part of 2022.
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In a letter to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, by its President, Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, the airline operators had threatened to shut down the sector over the fuel situation.
It took the intervention of the National Assembly before airlines in the sector continued their operations. But the current situation in the sector has continued to take a toll on Nigerians as they now bear the brunt by paying high fare charges.
Most Nigerians are currently faced with the difficult situation of being unable to travel on land due to the current wave of insecurity and also being unable to fly due to the astronomical rise in aviation fares.
Expert blames aviation fuel crisis on high dollar rate
But Balami exclusively told Legit.ng that the aviation sector is facing a fuel crisis because of the high rate of dollars to the Naira.
According to the former President of the Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, the problem persisted because Nigeria does not refine jet A1 but imports the same.
“We are only talking about aviation fuel, but the problem is not in the aviation sector alone. If you want to look at the problem objectively, you have to look at the high rate of dollars to the Naira.
“The exchange rate is the major problem because Nigeria does not produce fuel but imports with dollars. Nigeria has crude oil but cannot produce it locally. As an import-dependent nation, this is what we go through.”
Expert speaks on solutions
Proffering a solution, Balami said the nation must look inwards in order to solve the problem. He said encouraging local capacity will go a long way in not only reducing the price of the product but will also create employment in the oil sector.
According to him:
“We need to look inwards and give in to local capacity. Nigerian refineries should be made to work and that will go a long way to solving the problem of scarcity of fuel and reducing the unemployment rate in the country.
"It is quite unfortunate that Aviation fuel scarcity is prevailing at a time when Nigerians cannot even travel by road anymore because of insecurity."
Suggesting ways the government can protect the airways, Balami said the recent attack on Kuje prison should worry the aviation sector and that there is a need for security operatives and airport users to be more vigilant.
He said that for terrorists to force their way into the Kuje prison, it’s important to beef up security, not only in the aviation sector but around all critical sectors.
Balami, however, commended the effort of the minister and the Chief of Air Staff to ensure a safe aviation sector.
“I think so far so good, the government is doing a lot. The Airport and the Aviation authorities have actually improved security and surveillance around airports.
“The Air force is also trying because it also has the mandate to secure Airports. I have worked with them on different fronts so I must commend the Chief of Air Staff.
"However, with all the happenings, we need to be more vigilant. For terrorists to force their way into Kuje prison and operated successfully for hours without resistance, is a bad sign of high insecurity situation.”
Airline operators cancel nationwide shutdown, flights resume
In another development, domestic airline operators under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have called off their planned suspension of flights.
Recall that the airline operators had initially stated that the strike will commence on Monday, May 9.
President of the AON, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, said the decision was taken after deliberations with the federal government.
FG appeals to airline operators to reconsider planned strike
Recall that following the announcement by airlines to shut down operations on Monday, May 9, the federal government called on operators to reconsider their decisions.
This appeal was made by the minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, via a statement issued by his special assistant on public affairs, James Odaudu, on Saturday, May 7, in Lagos.
According to the statement, the minister acknowledged the difficulties being faced by airline operators over the incessant increase in the cost of aviation fuel.