Economy

Local Airlines suspend flights shutdown in Nigeria

The Airline Operators of Nigeria, the umbrella body for domestic airlines, on Sunday cancelled its decision to halt flight services across the country beginning Monday.

But before the AON announced the cancellation of its earlier decision, five of its members had already declared that they would not join in the plan to suspend flights from Monday. They include Aero, Arik Air, Dana Air, Ibom Air, and Green Africa Airlines.

This came as the Federal Government revealed on Sunday that it had been supporting the AON and provided a bailout of N4bn to domestic airlines during the COVID-19 pandemic despite the past and present state of indebtedness by the carriers to government agencies.

On the latest decision by the airlines, the AON President, Abdulmunaf Sarina, in a statement issued on Sunday, said, “The AON wishes to inform the general public that further to numerous calls from the highest echelons in government with promises to urgently intervene in the crises being faced by airlines due to the astronomic and continuously rising cost of JetA1, that the AON has acceded to requests to withdraw the action for the time being while we allow for a fresh round of dialogue with the government in the hope of reaching an amicable solution.

“We have also reached this decision with the highest consideration for our esteemed customers who have been faced with uncertainty over the last few days and to enable them to have access to travel to their various destinations for the time being during the period of discussions with relevant authorities.

“In view of the above and in the interest of national economy and security considerations, AON hereby wishes to notify the general public that the earlier announced shutdown of operations on May 9, 2022, is hereby suspended in good fate pending the outcome of hopefully fruitful engagement with government.”

Before the latest announcement by AON, the Federal Government had earlier said on Sunday that four domestic carriers would not join in the flights’ suspension decision.

The Federal Ministry of Aviation disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja by the Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation on Public Affairs, James Odaudu.

The statement read in part, “It is gratifying that members of the association (AON) have started reviewing the decision to withdraw flight services, with Ibom Air, Green Africa Airlines, Arik Air, Dana and others confirming that they will carry on with their normal flight schedules.

“We hope that other members will consider the expected impact on businesses and individuals and review their decision.”

The ministry stated that since the declaration by AON, enquiries had continued to flood in the FMA with some under the erroneous impression that the withdrawal was a kind of strike against the government.

“We wish to state that the decision of the association is purely a business one as they are private businesses reacting to market forces but appealing for interventions to enable them to carry on with their operations,” the FMA stated.

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