The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), one of Nigeria’s organized private sector (OPS) advocacy groups, has urged the Federal Government to collaborate with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and approve a special foreign exchange regime to ease importation of aviation fuel (Jet A1) in order to tackle the crisis in the air transport system.
The OPS group, in a statement issued by its Director General, Dr. Chinyere Almona at the weekend, rued the increasingly worrisome crisis in the nation’s aviation sector and the attendant negative implications for entrepreneurial and commercial activities over the months and called for urgent solutions to the myriad of problems in the sector.
Specifically, the OPS group noted that the crisis in Nigeria’s aviation industry had reached a problematic level with the surging price aviation fuel from N300 per litre to over N800 per litre within five months.
The chamber outlined the challenging operating environment had led to an unprecedented increase in airfares, continuous delays and flight cancellations by domestic airlines though the government stated that it had no immediate solutions to the crisis, claiming the issues are global.
It also recalled that recently the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), alerted the public that the sector was experiencing a significant crisis which had caused intermittent flight delays and cancellations.
The LCCI further stated that some airlines had been forced to suspend their operations due to the harsh operating environment and that this portended challenges around the movement of goods and business conduct across locations.
The chamber, therefore, stressed that the government cannot afford to allow this sector to suffer from the crises as operators continue to contend with a “double whammy issue of foreign exchange scarcity and the high cost of aviation fuel, Jet-A1, which is a significant cost component in airline operations.”
In addition, the OPS group urged the government to take immediate steps toward resolving the crises in the aviation sector in view of the importance of air transportation to the socio-economic growth of the country.
On what it considered the way forward for the aviation sector, the chamber tasked the government to “immediately consider involving the CBN and the NNPC in making Forex available for aviation fuel imports. However, the more sustainable solution would be refining Jet-A1 fuel for our local consumption.
“While we acknowledge that the current energy crisis is real and global, it is aggravating in Nigeria because we do not produce the oil. The aviation sector qualifies for targeted financing to facilitate economic activities in the country, boost economic growth and avert an imminent recession”, it added.