Ibom Airlines Limited (Ibom Air) has refused to suspend its flights in accordance with the flights Cessation agreement reached by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), TechEconomy.ng can report.
Ibom Air, a public statement issued on Saturday, said, the airlines acknowledges the existential threat that the runaway fuel price increases pose for the air transport industry in Nigeria, however “every airline has its unique business model and pressures”.
The airline said it has been inundated with inquiries about what will happen on Monday 09 May, 2022, following the public statement issued by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) Executive, on Friday 06 May, 2022 and it became necessary to make the following clarifications:
“Ibom Air acknowledges the existential threat that these runaway fuel price increases pose for the air transport industry in Nigeria. We agree that this out-of-control situation is simply unsustainable. However, every airline has its unique business model and pressures. We believe that in spite of the escalating fuel prices, airlines volunteering to stop operations would rather exacerbate an already bad situation.
“Ibom Air has financial obligations to suppliers, financiers and staff, which depend on uninterrupted flow of revenue to service. More importantly is the fact that having been paid by customers in advance for flight bookings we are bound by contract to deliver the services already paid for, to avoid exposing the airline to the risk of avoidable litigation.
“Apart from the above factors, Ibom Air is currently the only airline serving Akwa Ibom State directly and as such, any voluntary stoppage of operations would completely cut off access by air into and out of the State. Such action would be directly in conflict with and detrimental to the interest of our shareholder.
“In view of the foregoing facts, Ibom Air had respectfully disagreed with the decision of AON to suspend flight operations on Monday 09 May, 2022. Ibom Air cannot in the circumstance volunteer to stop operating and will continue normal operations on Monday 09 May, 2022 and beyond. Ibom Air’s inclusion as “signatory” to the statement released by AON must have derived from its active and committed membership of the AON.
“The above notwithstanding, we identify very strongly with our AON colleagues and will participate in every effort to resolve this frightening situation as soon as possible in the interest of our business, our customers, our stakeholders and our country.
“We thank our customers for their continued patronage and we thank the AON for our collective efforts to secure a sustainable fuel pricing regime for the airlines”, the statement reads:
The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Friday, announced the shutdown of operations, with effect from Monday May 09, 2022, over the skyrocketing cost of Aviation fuel, which has reached an all-time high of N700 per litre.
The operators sympathised with the passengers, saying Jet A1 has shot up the cost of operations to over 95 percent.
The Operators stated this in a letter its President, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, sent to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.
Sarina’s position was endorsed by the chief executives of all the domestic airlines.
The letter read: “It is with a great sense of responsibility and patriotism that the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have carried on deploying and subsidizing their services to our highly esteemed Nigerian flying public in the last four months despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1 and other operating costs.
“Overtime, aviation fuel price (JetA1) has risen from N190 per litre to N700 currently. No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period.
“While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40% of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shut up Nigeria’s operating cost to about 95%.
“In the face of this, airlines have engaged the Federal Government, the National Assembly, NNPC and Oil Marketers with the view to bringing the cost of JetA1 down which has currently made the unit cost per seat for a one hour flight in Nigeria today to an average of N120,000.
“The latter cannot be fully passed to passengers who are already experiencing a lot of difficulties.
“While AON appreciates the efforts of the current government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure air transport in Nigeria grows, unfortunately, the cost of aviation fuel has continued to rise unabated thereby creating huge pressure on the sustainability of operations and financial viability of the airlines. This is unsustainable and the airlines can no longer absorb the pressure.
“To this end therefore, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) hereby wishes to regrettably inform the general public that member airlines will discontinue operations nationwide with effect from Monday May 9, 2022 until further notice.
“AON uses this medium to humbly state that we regret any inconveniences this very difficult decision might cause and appeal to travelers to kindly reconsider their travel itinerary and make alternative arrangements.”