Dana Air has joined Ibom Air in pulling out from the proposed shutdown of operations by indigenous airlines in the country.
This is also as the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika along with the House of Representatives intensified action to scuttle the planned shutdown of operations by domestic carriers.
The domestic operators under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) had fixed this Monday, May 9, to protest the increasing scarcity and high price of JET A1, also called Aviation fuel which had continued to hamper their businesses despite interventions by several parties to reach a resolution.
AON members had planned a shutdown of operations on Monday, a move which would cripple domestic aviation operations across the country.
Affiliate members of AON had agreed to embark on the action as aviation fuel continued to skyrocket.
However, Ibom Air having earlier announced withdrawing from the deal, have now been joined by Dana Air, which issued a statement titled, “Dana Air Not Suspending Fights” and made available to journalists Sunday.
The statement signed by its management explained that following the recent press statement issued by the AON, it has become necessary for the airline to take a stand in the overall interest of its passengers, corporate partners, staff and the industry at large.
The airline further explained that while Dana Air agrees with the AON on all the challenges facing domestic airlines in Nigeria and have on many occasions actively participated in the collective and ongoing engagement of relevant authorities on the urgent need to tackle the many issues domestic airlines have been grappling with which includes the skyrocketing cost of Jet A1, the has taken a decision not to join the suspension of flights on May 9, 2022.
”We acknowledge that the present cost of jet A1 is unsustainable and should not be passed to the flying public, we therefore call on the government to act urgently to resolve these unending operational challenges while Dana Air will continue to support every effort by the AON to achieve a quick and peaceful resolution in the interest of our dear country Nigeria,” the statement assured.
It would be recalled that AON had insisted that there is no going back on the decision by its members to shut down flight operations tomorrow, Monday, May 9,2022 due to increase in the price of aviation fuel which is sold for N700 per litre.
The latest statement signed by the AON, President, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina and jointly signed by the Executive Director, Max Air, Alhaji Shehu Wada, the Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, Chairman, Air Peace, Barr. Allen Onyema, CEO of Arik, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, CEO of Aero Contractors, Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood, Managing Director of Azman Air, Alhaji Faisal Abdulmunaf and Deputy CEO, Dana Air, Mr. Sukh Mann.
AON said that in the light of the latest developments within the last 24 hours since informing the general public of its decision to suspend operations in response to the Astronomic and continuously rising cost of JetA1, AON would like to state unequivocally that it stands firmly by its decision.
“AON however regrets the unfortunate position taken by one of our members, Ibom Air, not to stand by the collective decision. While they may have their reasons for doing what they did, it is pertinent to note that they equally accepted in their statement that the JetA1 situation poses an “existential threat to the air transport industry in Nigeria” and that “the out-of-control situation is simply unsustainable.
“Airlines are not on strike. We are private investors who do not run our airlines with public funds to be able to continue to pay upfront in cash at N700 per litre for JetA1 which has increased our cost on a daily basis to about 95 per cent.
“This is totally unsustainable. And its consequences, if allowed to stay, will be borne by the passengers; which is what we are trying to prevent.
“To this end therefore, we remain resolute in our resolve to find a lasting solution to this crucial problem of national emergency and once again use this medium to appeal to the conscience of our esteemed passengers for their understanding,” the group said.
Meanwhile, the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate steps to avert an imminent shutdown of flight operations in the country.
In a statement signed by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, the Caucus expressed concern over the notice by Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to shut down flight operations in the country by Monday, May 9, 2022 due to the unbearable high cost of aviation fuel (JetA1) from N190 to N700 per liter.
“This worrisome development in Nigeria, a major producer of oil, is another very sad commentary on the unpardonable failure, corruption, incompetence, negative policies and lack of capacity of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration to effectively manage our national economy.” The Statement added.
Hon. Elumelu said as representatives of the people, the Caucus is concerned because aviation is pivotal to the operation, sustenance and survival of other key sectors of the economy and “any shutdown of flight operations will have devastating spiral effect and worsen the excruciating economic hardship and further escalate insecurity in the country.”
The Minority Caucus, therefore, called on President Buhari to ‘wake up, note the grave import of the situation and save the aviation sector from imminent collapse by immediately addressing the fuel crisis and other challenges in the industry.’
“The President should critically address the crisis in the petroleum industry by reviewing the counter-productive policies and curbing the corruption in his administration so as to save our national economy from collapse under his watch.”
In a related development, Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has given assurances that the ministry is engaging all relevant stakeholders to address the issue.
Senator Sirika, noted that the ministry is greatly concerned about the difficulties being faced by the airline operators in procuring aviation fuel, which has resulted in spiraling costs in air transportation in the immediate past.
“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 which is already being done by the relevant team led by Aviation Ministry.
“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.
“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,” Sirika said.
The minister assured Nigerians, especially stakeholders in the sector, ‘that the present 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.’