Nigerian airlines have canceled plans to ground all domestic flights due to the skyrocketing cost of jet fuel, the airline operators association announced on Sunday.
Since the planned shutdown was announced on Friday, the Airline Operators of Nigeria has been under pressure from the government, consumer protection organizations, and customers to postpone it.
Airlines are complaining about having to pay for jet fuel in cash up front at 700 naira ($1.69) per litre, a price that has more than doubled this year, owing in part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has increased their operating costs by around 95 percent.
Dollar shortages in Nigeria, as well as a weaker local currency have exacerbated the sector’s woes which are compounded by countrywide challenges such as double-digit inflation, slow growth, and mounting unemployment and insecurity.
Earlier on Sunday, the aviation ministry stated that while local airlines have faced unfavorable global oil market dynamics, efforts are being made to find a “long-term solution to the perplexing issue of aviation fuel availability and affordability.”
Due to fuel shortages and high debts, some airlines suspended local flights indefinitely in 2016.This comes despite the fact that the government intervened with financial assistance to help the sector.
AEM had previously reported the warning by Nigerian airline operators to shut down operations or increase fares, due to the same issue.
Nigeria subsidizes imported gasoline in order to keep pump prices low. However, as global oil prices have risen, the country has faced skyrocketing costs in order to avoid strikes, particularly in the run-up to presidential elections next year.
Air Peace, Nigeria’s largest carrier with flights to Dubai and Johannesburg, announced on Sunday that the suspension would continue until the association changed its mind.
Ibom Air withdrew from the flight suspension on Saturday due to obligations to financiers and suppliers. Dana Air followed suit.