The scarcity of Jet A1 (aviation fuel) in Nigeria is disrupting the smooth airlifting of Muslim pilgrims from Saudi Arabia by local airlines involved in Hajj operations.
The fuel scarcity, which has been a problem since the start of the week, has mostly affected the outbound flight of Skypower Express Airways, a charter operator in the Hajj pilgrimage.
At least about 265 pilgrims of the carrier were delayed in Saudi Arabia as the airline could not purchase fuel in Nigeria to fly out to the Holy Land, according to Skypower CEO Capt. Muhammed Joji.
Joji said an attempt to purchase the fuel in Lagos and Kano proved futile. According to him, Jet A1 has not only been scare but, where available, the product is sold at a very exhorbitant price.
He explained that the airline was, however, able to airlift 265 pilgrims out of Saudi Arabia with a Boeing 777 aircraft leased from a local operator.
He further explained that the arrangement would assist in the airlift of another batch of 265 pilgrims back to Nigeria on Saturday.
He lamented that the scarcity of the product in Nigeria was affecting flight operations by local airlines and called on the government to take steps and make the product available to airlines.
“‘It is unfortunate that we don’t have fuel anywhere in Nigeria. We tried to get in Lagos, Kano and other airports, but we couldn’t get any,” said Joji.
“This is unfortunately affecting the airlift of our pilgrims back to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia.
“I think this is sabotage. How can a country have three refineries and can’t get aviation fuel to supply to its airlines. Apart from local operators, other foreign carriers operating into Nigeria are equally faced with the same challenge. It is high time we settled this issue one and for all,” the airline CEO said.