Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has appealed to Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to shelve its plan of shutting down operations from Monday, May 9 over the high cost of aviation fuel.
The operators, in a letter addressed to Senator Sirika by the AON President, Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, had stated that the cost of aviation fuel price has risen from N190 per litre to N700 per litre.
The AON President added that the cost of aviation fuel has continued to rise unabated, creating huge pressure on the sustainability of operations and financial viability of the airlines.
Reacting to the development, Sirika, in a statement issued on Saturday by his media aide, James Odaudu, said the issue of fuel supply is not within the purview of the Ministry of Aviation, adding that the much it could do in the present situation is to engage with agencies, institutions and individuals in positions to provide assistance to the airlines.
The minister noted that the move had already been embarked on by relevant team led by him.
Sirika, however, appealed to the airline operators to consider the multiplier effect shutting down operations would have on Nigerians and global travellers.
He stated: “As the Ministry charged with the management of the industry, we are greatly concerned about the difficulties being faced by the airline operators in the country in procuring aviation fuel which has resulted in spiraling costs in Air transportation in the immediate past.
“We also acknowledge that the airline operators are in the business to make profits, while servicing the very critical sector that is not only the preferred mode of transport for most Nigerians, but also the main international gateway to the nation.
“Unfortunately the issue of fuel supply is not within the purview of the Ministry and so the much it can do in the present situation is to engage with agencies, institutions and individuals in positions to provide succour to the airlines. This is already being done by the relevant team led by the Honourable Minister.
“While the efforts to assuage the situation are on, we wish to appeal to the airline operators, even in the difficult situation, to consider the multiplier effect of shutting down operations, on Nigerians and global travellers, in taking their business-informed decisions and actions.
“We also assure Nigerians, especially stakeholders in the sector, that the Buhari administration remains stoic in its commitment to the creation and sustenance of an environment that promotes the growth of the aviation industry where major players like the airlines can operate in a profitable and competitive market,” the statement partly read.