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Why Arik Air Is Suspending Flight Operations Leaving Hundreds Of Passengers Stranded



by Zenith Oduah

Hundreds of air passengers may be stranded at the various airports across the country as Nigeria major airline, Arik Air, plans to suspend flight operations today, due to the lingering aviation fuel scarcity in the country revealed Managing Director, Arik Air, Mr Chris Ndulue .

 Ndulue made this disclosure yesterday at the airline corporate headquarters while addressing aviation reporters. Arik Air controls about sixty percent of the Nigerian aviation market suspending its operations will lead to a complete halt in air transportation in Nigeria.

He said the airline has been operating 20% of its daily flights schedule due to scarcity of aviation fuel, particularly in Lagos, its major hub. The airline operates about 120 flights on its domestic routes daily.

According to Ndulue, “ This aviation fuel scarcity started last week Thursday. And since then, we have had to scale down our operations due to non-availability of fuel. We have had to cancel and reschedule flights. We couldn’t depart for Dubai yesterday due to this scarcity. It is becoming impossible to continue. We will suspend flights operation from tomorrow (Saturday), until when aviation fuel becomes available.”

Continuing, he said: “ It is the contingency arrangement for fuel during this scarcity that has taken us this far . We may not be able to continue. We have been losing revenue by cancelling flights and not operating at full capacity. We require about 500,000 to 800,000 litres of fuel daily to power both our domestic and international routes. Our international flights have had to go to Ghana, sometimes Cotonou and even Togo to get fuel before proceeding to London or United States.”

It will be recalled that last week, Arik Air raised the alarm about the negative impart of the current scarcity of fuel on its operations.

According to an official of Arik, Chigozie Okereke tells Vanguard, “There has been short supply of the product in Lagos and this has led to rationing by the petroleum product marketers. Signs of the scarcity started manifesting on Thursday, April 23, 2015 when marketers were unable to meet the demands of the airlines, especially Arik Air, which by volume of its operations requires a daily supply of between 600,000 and 800,000 liters of aviation fuel.”

She added that the scarcity had impacted negatively on Arik Air’s operations as flights have had to be delayed or canceled in cases where the destination airport has no airfield lighting.

“In some other cases, flights were diverted to other airports outside Lagos where the product was readily available,” she added.
Okereke further revealed that on “Friday, Arik Air’s flight to London Heathrow had to go via Accra to take fuel. Also on Saturday, the same London flight had to go to Cotonou, Benin Republic first to fuel before coming back to Lagos for the outbound flight to Heathrow.

“In the case of the Johannesburg flight of Friday, the aircraft had to first go to Port Harcourt where fuel was available before proceeding on the journey. On Monday, the London flight went via Kano to take fuel. Flying via other stations to take fuel has come at a great cost to Arik Air, but the airline had to do this to ameliorate the inconvenience the scarcity may cause its passengers.”

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