The skyrocketing prices of aviation may have taken its toll on airlines as they now spend billion in sourcing for the commodity which account for over 50 percent of the cost of their operations. Although, the commodity is no longer scare as claimed Wale Tinubu, national chairman of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), the airlines are getting the product at high rates, a situation that has impacted on all aspects of their operations.
At least on a daily basis, an airline spends millions on fuel consumption while they get the pump price at N180 per litre. For instance, Arik Air Chairman, Joseph Arumemi-Johnson Ikhide during the visit of General Electric officials to his company, disclosed that with 126 flights daily, the airlines needs about 500, 000 litre in a day to power its flights.
“Unfortunately, some marketers even deny us fuel. They can’t even supply us what we want and we have to adjust our flights. For instance, we need 500,000 litres a-day but the marketers can’t supply that because it is scarce, we need about 3.5 million litres in a week.
“Therefore, we can’t operate normally, we lose money. Although, we have a fuel dump but that is just for a few litres, it does not serve the purpose of all our flights,” he said. With N180 per litre, Arik Air which operates the largest fleet and flights may spend about N90 million to power all its flights its 26 flights in a day.
“This is different from other operational costs like maintenance which is a major aspect of flight operations that gulp a lot of money. You know that the high grades maintenance are not done in Nigeria, they are mandatory checks that have to be done in foreign currencies abroad.
“I am not absolving the marketers but the Nigerian situation has made airline operations in the country a difficult and expensive one if actions are not taken by necessary government or private quarters, we may soon be left with one domestic scheduled airline alone”, says a concerned stakeholder.
Arik Air operates two A340-500, one A330-200, four B737-800, nine B737-700, two 737-300, four CRJ 900, two Bombadier Q400 and two HS125-800 XP; Aero operates four B737-500 and five B737-300 Air Nigeria, which recently increased its fleet operates eight B737 and two Embraer; Dana operates four MD 83; IRS operates five Fokker 100 type.
Overland Airways operates two Beechcraft 1900D and three ATR-42. Capital operates three Embraer 125 while Associated operates four Embraer 125 “For an hour flight, you need averagely 3, 600 litre on a B 734, it could be more because sometimes, there are issues “, David Balami, President of National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) said.
Air Nigeria, which operates nine B737 in its fleet needs over 28, 800 litres in a day as well as over 7,200 litres for its two Embraer. With this, the airline operates over 70 flights and may need 245, 000 litres daily and spend N44 million daily on the commodity.
As for Aero which also operates over 70 flights, the airlines needs over 231,000 litres daily apart from its helicopter operations and may be spending over N41 million in a day on fuel alone.
Isyaku Rabiu , the chairman of IRS Airlines had said it is glaring that the travelling public were on the receiving end of the whole situation adding that his airline will support the government for the effort it is making to resolve the high cost of air travel, which is greatly influenced by the high cost of aviation fuel.
Airline operators under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had recently given conditions for the reduction of air fares. The operators had demanded among other things, the regular supply and reduction in the price of aviation fuel, otherwise known as JET A1 and the removal of value added tax (VAT). The operator noted that the VAT was not applicable to other modes of transportation in Nigeria, just as they equally canvassed the removal of rent payable at the airports.