Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has said that there is no immediate solution to the multitude of crises bedeviling the Aviation sector in the country.
The Minister, who spoke today, July 26 at an emergency meeting with the Airline Operators Association of Nigeria (AON) in Abuja, said that the variables impacting the crises in the aviation sector are beyond the industry’s control.
Sirika, who made it clear that crises have a global dimension, remarked: “energy crises are real and they are global.
“Today, there is aviation fuel problem all over the world; from America to New Zealand. It is aggravating in Nigeria because we don’t produce the product. It’s aggravated also because the foreign exchange is scarce in Nigeria because the source of earning the foreign exchange also has dwindled.”
He recalled that Federal Government had in the past, sourced 10,000 metric tonnes of Aviation Fuel for the airlines and that the government is wiling to do more.
“As we speak, the government is in the process of finding a permanent solution to this issue. Some of the solutions include importation of the product at appropriate price, accelerating the refurbishment of our refineries and also wait for the coming on stream of Dangote Refinery to boost supply of the product.”
The minister confessed that such solutions cannot be soon, saying: “so, when you ask how soon, I wouldn’t know when Dangote will come on stream, I wouldn’t know how soon the refineries will be filled. I wouldn’t know when imports would become sufficient. But the government is working towards all these to happen.”
He said that he will meet with relevant stakeholders, including the CBN so that the airlines can access dollars at the official market rate rather than the black market rate.
This was even as the President of the Association, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, said that the aviation fuel crises began from N180 per litre and now it’s at N1000 per litre.
He said that the Forex crises is a huge burden on the Industry.
“The rate at which the dollar is escalating now is very alarming. Everyday, a difference between 10-15 Naira is added at the pararrel market. Last week Monday, it was N610 but today, it is N670 to one dollar.”
He appealed to the Minister to intervene, even as the Association’s Vice President, Allen Oyeama, said expressed satisfaction with the government intervention in the Industry.
“We, the airline operators are satisfied with the approach which the government is bringing to the table.”
He acknowledged that the President has approved 10,000MT of fuel to alleviate the sufferings of the members of the Association, adding that another 5,000 has come in.
“We are about to start accessing that. We are pleased with the approach for the long run.
“It is not easy to give a timeline to issues like this because the challenge is global. Even the American airlines are threatened too. It’s not only Nigeria; which is why we are grateful to the government.”