Fresh fears of aviation fuel scarcity hit operators
Arik Air trims flight schedule
• Oil marketers allay concerns
Another bout of aviation fuel scarcity appears to have begun at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, yesterday, with airline operators unable to get the volume required for optimal daily operations.
The Guardian learnt marketers in the last couple of days had resorted to rationing fuel, with complaints yesterday morning that they were running out of reserves.
The looming implications are gradual return of flight delays and outright cancellation of scheduled services.
Oil marketers, however, have allayed fears, saying the shortage was due to the late arrival of aviation fuel-laden ships at Lagos port.
The fuel, also called Jet-A1, is entirely imported into the country and subject to the fluctuations of the foreign exchange market.
Arik Air, which operates the largest fleet-size of 28 aircraft, with about 120 flights daily, confirmed the scarcity yesterday.
Spokesperson, Banji Ola, said it began to manifest, last week, when major oil marketers started rationing supply to airlines.
“One of the marketers issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) on Saturday alerting of non-availability of the product in Lagos. Another said it was running out of the product in Lagos, with limited supplies in Port Harcourt and Abuja.
“This development has started taking its toll on Arik Air, due to the airline’s large scale operations, with flights being delayed across the country and in some cases cancelled, especially at airports without airfield lighting,” said Ola.
The airline has a daily fuel requirement of about 500,000 litres needed to power an average of 100 flights.
Ola said Arik Air was most affected by the scarcity, the fourth of its kind in the year.
It was learnt that one of the airline’s flights to Johannesburg Tuesday had to be routed via Port Harcourt International Airport to get fuel for the journey.
“As a result of the worsening supply of aviation fuel, Arik Air has announced further reduction in flights from Wednesday, November 16, to cope with the fresh scarcity and reduce the unpleasant delays and cancellations which passengers have experienced in recent times.”