Bleak Xmas for local airlines as aviation fuel import dips

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Hopes of a quick resolution of the lingering aviation fuel (Jet A1) crisis have been dashed as only 15,000 metric tonnes of the product were listed for importation in the coming weeks, according to Shipping Position, a bulletin of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on vessel traffic.
The quantity is a far cry from what is needed to bridge the supply gap and cushion the suffering of local carriers who have been forced to scale down their operations in recent times.
Of the 30 vessels expected at the Lagos Pilotage District for November 2016, nine are laden with a combined tonnage of 259,609.620 metric tonnes of petrol (Premium Motor Spirit) and out of four motor vessels awaiting berth at anchorage, two are carrying PMS of a combined tonnage of 22,500, while one is laden with 15,000 MT of Jet A1.
The development paints a gloomy picture for domestic operators ahead of the Yuletide when passenger volume is expected to swell by up to 40 per cent.
It was learnt that the product has been arriving in ‘trickles’ in the last few months, a situation that underscores the severity of the current scarcity.
Arik Air, the largest airline in Nigeria and West Africa, recently informed its customers of plans to reduce the number of routes it services as the scarcity of Jet A1 has almost crippled its operations.
The scarcity has also disorganised the schedules of the local carriers that cancel flights repeatedly. Some vital routes like Lagos-Abuja run on an unreliable schedule as a 10am flight may not depart until 3pm because the airlines wasted vital time searching for fuel.
While local airlines groan over the scarcity, foreign airlines have taken solace in refuelling in neighbouring Ghana or Cote d’Ivoire, even as the crippling scarcity has triggered concerns of the likelihood of the demise of more local airlines after Aero.
Similarly, automotive gas oil (diesel), which price unit  has spiked at over N200 per litre is not about to get a reprieve. Only 10,000 tonnes are coming aboard Westminster through Lagos ports.
However, motorists may be in for a crisis-free season as over 282,109.62 metric tonnes of petrol will be shipped into the country, which is cheering news for road users for a season hitherto characterised by crippling product scarcity. The consignments of petrol are coming aboard 11 vessels through Lagos ports, part of the over 30 vessels expected to berth in the next two weeks.

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