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No going back on flight suspension from Monday, Airline Operators vow

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Airline Operators say they are not on strike but member airlines will discontinue operations nationwide with effect from Monday May 9, 2022

By Emma Ogbuehi

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Despite concerns by Nigerians and the travelling public over the notice by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), to suspend flight operations from Monday, 9, the organisation has maintained that it is not going back on its earlier stance.

In a release signed by all the operators, the AON hinged its position on high cost of operation especially the astronomic and continuously rising cost of aviation fuel, otherwise called. JetA1

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The organisation maintained the members are not on strike, being private investors but do not have the money to continue to pay in cash upfront at N700 per liter of JetA1 which has increased their cost unbearably to about 95%. “It is totally unsustainable”, AON lamented.

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The statement reads:

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“In the light of frantic developments within the last twenty four hours since informing the general public of our decision to suspend operations in response to the astronomic and continuously rising cost of JetA1, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) would like to state unequivocally that we stand firmly by our decision.

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“Airline operators are patriotic citizens and we are doing all we can to protect the flying public contrary to what some subjective schools of thought might suggest. This is a collective sacrifice for the common interest of our nation.

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“Hence, may we use this medium to clearly state that; “Airlines are not on strike. We are private investors and we simply don’t have the money to continue to pay in cash upfront at N700 per liter of JetA1 which has increased our cost unbearably to about 95%.” It is totally unsustainable.

“AON however regrets the unfortunate position taken by one of our members not to stand by the collective decision. While they may have their reasons for doing what they did, it is pertinent to note that they equally accepted in their statement that the JetA1 situation poses an “existential threat to the air transport industry in Nigeria” and that “the out-of-control situation is simply unsustainable.”

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“To this end therefore, we remain resolute in our resolve to find a lasting solution to this crucial problem of national emergency and once again use this medium to appeal to the conscience of our esteemed passengers for their understanding”.

The association had earlier listed its challenges in the face of tough business environment and expressed its appreciation with the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to ensure air transport in Nigeria grows.  It noted however that 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.

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“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”, it stated.

The notice was signed by Alhaji (Dr.) Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina (President) Alhaji Shehu Wada – Executive Director, Max Air; Barr. Allen Onyema, Chairman, Air Peace; Capt. Abdullahi Mahmood – CEO, Aero Contractors; Mr. Sukh Mann – Deputy CEO, Dana Air; Dr. Obiora Okonkwo – Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines; Capt. Roy Ilegbodu – CEO, Arik Air and  Alhaji Faisal Abdulmunaf ‘MD, Azman Air

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