Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, has pleaded with Nigerian airlines to postpone their planned shutdown on Monday due to the exorbitant cost of aviation fuel, which has risen from N190 to N700 per litre.
Sirika made the request in a statement released on Saturday in Lagos by his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Mr James Odaudu.
Due to the high cost of aviation fuel, Nigerian airlines, under the banner of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), announced preparations to cease operations from Monday.
The minister encouraged the airlines to examine the impact of suspending operations on Nigerians and international travellers.
He said: “The attention of the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has been drawn to reports that the nation’s air transportation system will be disrupted as from Monday.
“This follows the threats by airline operators to shut down operations as a result of rising cost of Jet A1, otherwise known as aviation fuel.
“As the ministry charged with the industry, we are greatly concerned about the difficulties being faced by the airlines in procuring aviation fuel which has resulted in spiraling costs in air transportation in the immediate past.
“We also acknowledge that the airlines 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 the main international gateway to the nation.
“Unfortunately, the issue of fuel supply is not within the purview of the ministry, so the much it can do in the present situation is to engage with agencies, institutions and individuals in positions.
“This is to provide succour to the airlines. This is already being done by the relevant team led by the minister.”
Sirika reassured Nigerians, particularly stakeholders, that the Buhari administration was steadfast in its commitment to creating and maintaining an environment that supports the aviation industry’s growth.
He stated that the president was committed to the development of the business so that large participants such as airlines could compete profitably.
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