Local airlines under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have suspended their threat to shut down flight operations over the outrageous hike in the price of Jet â€“ A1 fuel. The Vice President of AON, Mr Allen Onyema, disclosed this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos. Recall that on March 15, AON had threatened to shut down their operations on Friday, March 18, if the government could not find a lasting solution for the marketers to reduce the JET-A1 price. Onyema, the Chairman of Air Peace, told NAN that airlines collectively agreed to suspend the shutdown to avert further disruption in economic activities considering the key role air transportation plays in the logistic mix. â€œWe are not going to shut down flight operations because discussions are ongoing between us and the relevant players in the oil and gas value chain to find a lasting solution to the problem. â€œWe are negatively affected by the increasing price of aviation fuel, but as patriotic investors, we will not take any action that will paralyse the economy. â€œAs patriotic Nigerians and investors, we will continue to engage government and its agencies on the way out of this problem,â€ he said. Onyema noted that the decision taken by the local carriers was a patriotic contribution to President Muhamadu Buhariâ€™s led administration. According to him, the administration is presently utilising every instrument by engaging stakeholders in the oil and gas and air transportation sectors to seek a permanent solution to the price hike. The Air Peace chairman recalled that the Buhari-led administration had contributed immensely to the development of airlines operations in the country. â€œSince the Buhari administration came on board, it has shown sufficient commitment to improving the aviation industry. â€œThe President signed an Executive Order that granted waivers on aircraft and its spares and other interventions, the least we could do is to continue to engage until challenges in the sector are resolved,â€ Onyema said. He said the association considered very delicate the precarious situation of aviation fuel scarcity and increment in price as a development that could be exploited for political capital by players in the governance space. Onyema, however, said the price hike was suffocating for local carriers to continue to operate flights under increasing costs regime, as they spend millions of naira to fill an aircraft with aviation fuel. He said airline operators were presently considering scaling down on the number of flight frequencies to minimise the cost of operations. Onyema said local carriers were not considering any further increase in airfares so as not to shut out ordinary Nigerians who desire to travel by air. A NAN correspondent who monitored activities at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal II (MMA2) and General Aviation Terminal (GAT) terminals, reports that airlines are working and passengers are also boarding.
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