By Emeka Okafor
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led government on Saturday appealed to Nigerian airline operators to suspend plans to shut down operations as from next week Monday.
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who made the appeal on behalf of the government, said the planned grounding of operations would affect the already “distressed economy”.
Senator Sirika, in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. James Odaudu, called on the airline operators to reconsider their stance in the interest of the nation’s economy.
The Minister expressed concern “about the difficulties being faced by the airline operators in the country in procuring aviation fuel, but said there is little his ministry could do as the issue of aviation does not fall within his purview.
“The attention of the Honourable Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has been drawn to reports that the nation’s air transportation system will be disrupted as from Monday May 9th, 2022, following threats by airline operators to shut down operations as a result of rising cost of Jet A1, otherwise known as aviation fuel.”
“We also acknowledge that the airline operators 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 also the main international gateway to the nation.
“Unfortunately the issue of fuel supply is not within the purview of the Ministry and so the much it can do in the present situation is to engage with agencies, institutions and individuals in positions to provide succour to the airlines. This is already being done by the relevant team led by the Honourable Minister.
“While the efforts to assuage the situation are on, we wish to appeal to the airline operators, even in the difficult situation, to consider the multiplier effect of shutting down operations, on Nigerians and global travellers, in taking their business-informed decisions and actions.
“We also assure Nigerians, especially stakeholders in the sector, that the Buhari administration remains stoic in its commitment to the creation and sustenance of an environment that promotes the growth of the aviation industry where major players like the airlines can operate in a profitable and competitive market.”