Nigerian airlines to halt domestic flights over jet fuel hikes

Photo Courtesy: AFP via BBC

(BBC): Nigeria’s airlines are to stop domestic operations from Monday in protest at the spiralling cost of jet fuel.

It has risen almost fourfold this year, which was unsustainable, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) said.

“No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period,” its statement said.

The hikes have been triggered principally by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of February.

AON, which represents Nigeria’s nine domestic carriers, said the airlines had been having to subsidise services over the last four months.

There have been many flight cancellations and delays since March, often blamed on a shortage of jet fuel. The price of tickets has also tripled on some routes in recent weeks.

Passengers in Nigeria pay for fares in naira, the local currency that has been devaluing. However, fuel suppliers need to be paid in US dollars.

Despite being Africa’s largest oil producer, Nigeria imports almost all its jet fuel.

AON said that it had told the government, MPs, the state-owned oil company and the association representing fuel sellers that something needed to be done to bring costs down.

The hikes could not be fully passed on to passengers as they were “already experiencing a lot of difficulties”, it said.

The government has not yet commented on the planned strike.