Airline operators to shut down operations starting Monday, unions to announce strike

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has announced a shutdown of its operations from Monday, May 9, due to the steady increase in the cost of aviation fuel.

The cost of aviation fuel, also known as Jet A1, had risen from ₦190/litre and later ₦360/litre in January this year to ₦607/litre in March. It reportedly sells for ₦700/litre.

The announcement came in a letter sent to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, by AON’s President, Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina.

“It is with a great sense of responsibility and patriotism that the Airline Operators of Nigeria has carried on deploying and subsidising their services to our highly esteemed Nigerian flying public in the last four months despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1 and other operating costs.

“Over time, aviation fuel price has risen from ₦190 per litre to ₦700 currently. No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period.

“While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40 per cent of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shut up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95 per cent.

“In the face of this, airlines have engaged the Federal Government, the National Assembly, NNPC and Oil Marketers with the view to bringing the cost of JetA1 down which has currently made the unit cost per seat for a one-hour flight in Nigeria today to an average of ₦120,000.

“The latter cannot be fully passed to passengers who are already experiencing a lot of difficulties.

“While AON appreciates the efforts of the current government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure air transport in Nigeria grows, unfortunately, the cost of aviation fuel has continued to rise unabated thereby creating huge pressure on the sustainability of operations and financial viability of the airlines. This is unsustainable and the airlines can no longer absorb the pressure.

“To this end therefore, the Airline Operators of Nigeria, hereby, wishes to regrettably inform the general public that member airlines will discontinue operations nationwide with effect from Monday May 9, 2022 until further notice.

“AON uses this medium to humbly state that we regret any inconveniences this very difficult decision might cause and appeal to travellers to kindly reconsider their travel itinerary and make alternative arrangements.”

Keypoints:

  • Aviation fuel is now ₦700
  • Operational costs now 95 per cent
  • AON members will discontinue operations starting Monday, May 9, 2022 until further notice.
  • AON members include: Air Peace, Ibom Air, Max Air, Arik Air, United Nigeria Airlines, Aero Contractors, Azman Air, Overland Airways, and Dana Air.

In February, the airlines increased the base fare to ₦50,000. Azman airline said then that, ‘’The increase in ticket fares is never with the intention of hurting or extorting but for us to stay afloat in the provision of safe and reliable flight experience to our passengers. The review became necessary due to hike in prices of aviation-related materials, services and FOREX.’’

Meanwhile, three aviation unions, the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), and the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) will on Monday and Tuesday, May 9 and 10, embark on a warning strike.

This is over the non-implementation of the Minimum Wage Consequential Adjustment which was negotiated in 2019.

In a statement signed by their respective General Secretaries, Ocheme Aba, Abdulrazaq Saidu and Sikiru Waheed, the unions said despite their best efforts, the issue of the Conditions of Service of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMeT), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) as negotiated for upwards of seven years remain with the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) and the Minimum Wage Consequential Adjustment remain unimplemented since 2019.

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