Airline operators in the country, yesterday, said they had only three more days to fly due to the high cost of aviation fuel.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, who spoke on behalf of the operators, said this during a public hearing by the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee investigating the scarcity of aviation fuel in Abuja.
Onyema accused aviation fuel marketers of not speaking the truth about the actual landing cost of aviation fuel, saying if drastic measures were not taken, the least air ticket would go for as high as N120,000.
He said: “If we continue this way, the last ticket you will have is about N120,000. And the marketers have refused to tell us how much the unit cost of their acquisition is.”
He urged the House to give operators of airlines licence to import aviation fuel, saying this would reduce unnecessary burden on the citizenry.
“What we are asking from the government is giving us the right to import aviation fuel. What others use in insuring one plane is what we use in insuring three planes in Nigeria. So, the Nigeria airline is dead on arrival,” he said.
Deputy Speaker of the House, Ahmed Wase, said the committee was only after facts and wanted to protect the interest of Nigerians.
“We are not willing to compromise what is in the interest of our country,” he said
He chided marketers for covering up some facts, saying their analysis is not correct based on facts at the committee’s disposal.
He also queried why some government agencies would not say the truth about the scarcity and the high cost of aviation fuel. “We should be seen to protect the interest of Nigeria and not otherwise,” he said.
He said the committee will ensure that the right thing is done in the interest of the country, adding that the basic tenet of governance remains the welfare of the people.
Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu, raised questions on what determines marketers’ prices and why they hoard the product. He said such actions by marketers were bringing a lot of dysfunction to the country’s economy. “If we are saying that the landing cost of aviation fuel is N450 from the Central Bank of Nigeria, who approved it?” he asked.
He also accused Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited of not identifying persons managing the products.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ugbugo Ukoha, the Executive Director for Distribution System for Storage and Retailing Infrastructure in the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), said the country has an excess supply of Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK).
This was as NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr. Mele Kyari, said the company will consider granting licenses to airlines operators to import aviation fuel.
Kyari also agreed that aviation fuel would now be sold at N500 per litre, contrary to the current N670 per litre.