The scarcity of aviation fuel, popularly called Jet-A1, did not only disrupt flight activities at airports across the country yesterday, but also affected private and government programmes in the Federal Capital Territory.
It was learnt that several programmes in Abuja were either postponed or delayed as key personnel who were to anchor strategic meetings could not arrive on schedule or did not arrive at all.
Several domestic airlines stated that the scarcity of the product had resulted in the delay or outright cancellation of some of their flights.
Hundreds of air travellers were left stranded at the domestic terminals of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, as the airlines were forced to either cancel or reschedule most of their flights due to the scarcity of aviation fuel.
As of 5pm, stranded passengers heading for Abuja from the Lagos airport were unable to book substitute flights as all flights to the Federal Capital Territory had been fully booked.
At the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Abuja, a programme that was meant to hold around noon did not commence until around 2.30pm despite the fact that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, was seated for hours waiting for committee members who were supposed to make presentations at the event.
It was later gathered that the committee members could not make it to Abuja as a result of the problems caused by the non-availability of aviation fuel, which affected their flights.
Similarly, some officials of power distribution companies who were meant to meet in Abuja by 2pm on Monday to discuss the recent court ruling on tariff reversal could not make it to the venue.
Arik Air announced that it was grappling with flight schedule disruptions due to the severity of the situation across the country.
It stated that since the beginning of the year, the country had been grappling with inadequate supply of aviation fuel leading in most cases to severe shortage of the product and consequently the disruption of flight operations.
According to the carrier, for the past week, it has had to face another round of aviation fuel scarcity, which got worse over the weekend, leading to many flight delays and cancellations.
The airline operates an average of 120 daily flights requiring about 500,000 litres of fuel each day.
Arik stated, “Due to the large number of domestic and international flights, it is the most impacted by the inability of oil marketers to meet its daily fuel requirements on a timely and consistent basis. This has forced the airline to postpone flights, while waiting for the fuel marketers to source and deliver the product.
“On many occasions, despite all efforts in engaging the marketers if fuel cannot be sourced, the flights may eventually be cancelled, causing not only revenue loss for the airline, but also inconveniencing or stranding the passengers.”
According to the carrier, at the root of the fuel supply crisis is low stock due to the inability of marketers to source for the foreign exchange to import more Jet-A1 fuel into the country.
It added, “There is also a distribution challenge as the discharging of vessels bringing Jet-A1 and other petroleum products are done in the same Jetty, and loading various trucks for distribution to cities like Kano or Abuja takes considerable effort and time.”