By Louis Iba
Several passengers across Nigerian airports were left stranded for hours yesterday owing to the scarcity of Dual Purpose Kerosene (also known as DPK and Jet A-1) which hit the aviation industry severely forcing airlines to either cancel or reschedule most of their flights.
A source at the domestic terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA2) Ikeja, Lagos, told Daily Sun that more than 30 per cent of scheduled commercial flights had to be either rescheduled or cancelled, with Arik Air, which operates the largest fleet of aircraft on many domestic routes, the worst hit.
“The limited supply of JET A1 (aviation fuel) across the country in the last few days has greatly hampered our flight operations,” Banji Ola, the spokesman for Arik Air told journalists yesterday.
“With over 100 flights daily, this limited supply of aviation fuel has resulted, regrettably, into flight delays and sometimes outright cancellations,” Ola added while apologising for all inconveniences being experienced by the passengers.
Daily losses to the airline industry due to the fuel scarcity is estimated at about over N200million. Aviation fuel is mostly imported into the country, and Daily Sun learnt that most marketers have found it hard to access foreign exchange to bring in the product to meet the demands of the industry. It is the same trend playing out with premium motor spirit (PMS) whose scarcity has also affected vehicular movements across the country. The result is that most airports now witness chaotic scenes as passengers wait endlessly for explanations on why their flights were delayed or cancelled.
In such instances, aggrieved passengers were seen threatening to pounce on airline ticketing or counter officials if refunds were not made on their purchased tickets to enable them go on other available airlines.
“It is a very difficult time to live, work or do business that requires you to be travelling in Nigeria,” said a passenger at the Lagos domestic airport who identified himself as Michael. “I don’t know why the government is allowing this to happen at this time when the economy requires vibrant businesses. You want to go by air, there is fuel crisis; you opt to go by land, there is fuel crisis. Transportation is very pivotal to the growth of businesses and when this is being hampered as we are presently witnessing, then there is no way the larger economy of the country will ever be made prosperous. It is very frustrating,” he added.