• Controversy over aviation fuel scarcity
Domestic carrier, Air Peace, says it is willing to evacuate Nigerians to complement efforts of the Federal Government to check the death of Nigerians residing in South Africa.
The Airline’s Chief Operating Officer, Mrs Oluwatoyin Olajide, in a letter addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Wednesday, urged the Federal Government to facilitate the rescue of stranded Nigerians in South Africa.
Olajide described the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa as an unfortunate event.
She said, “We cannot fold our hands and watch our fellow Nigerians being killed by South Africans.
“To this end, Air Peace is willing to support the Nigerian government‘s effort in this matter by deploying our B777 aircraft immediately to South Africa to evacuate Nigerians back home.”
She said the Federal Government should ask the Nigerian Embassy and the South African Government to rescue stranded Nigerians by transporting them to the airport to enable the airline to evacuate them back to Nigeria.
The Chairman of the airline, Mr Allen Onyema, while sympathising with the Nigerian victims’ families who lost their lives and properties in the attacks, said Air Peace decided to bring back Nigerians in support of the action already taken by the Federal Government.
Onyeama was said to have welcomed the offer and said it would be a relief to the government and Nigerians who might be stranded in South Africa.
In another development, marketers on Wednesday denied the scarcity of aviation fuel despite the challenges faced by airline operators in getting the product in the last one week.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Clement Isong, told our correspondent that there had been no problem with the supply of the product.
“There is aviation fuel; there is no problem with it. Our members have it in their tanks. I am not sure why it is not available to airline operators,” he said.
According to Isong, aviation fuel is a deregulated product so marketers are at liberty to sell based on their cost price.
Domestic airlines operators, however, said they had been having issues buying the product, otherwise known as Jet A1.
Airline sources said the scarcity and the attendant price hike had been causing flight delays, especially for aircraft requiring a refill in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano and Port Harcourt among other cities outside Lagos.
As of Wednesday, The PUNCH gathered that price had also gone up from N200 to N220 to between N250 and N255 or N270 depending on the marketer.
The Chief Executive Officer, Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said the scarcity had persisted in the last two weeks.
“We have been having scarcity of Jet A1 and whenever there is scarcity, the marketers increase the price without regards for local airlines because we don’t have long-term contracts with them,” he said.
He, however, stated that the scarcity eased out slightly on Wednesday as the product was available in Lagos but not much in Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and some other cities.
Airline sources said flight ticket prices may be affected in the coming days if there was no improvement.