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Airline operators slam FAAN over fuel racketeering

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FAANThe Airline Operators of Nigeria has expressed displeasure at the numerous issues in the aviation industry, saying that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria is responsible for the flight delays and cancellations.

They said the inadequacy of critical infrastructure at the airport was responsible for the numerous flight delays in the country.

This was disclosed at a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja.

Speaking at the event, the Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said when it came to flight delays and cancellations, so many things were involved, which many people did not know.

He noted that no airline in the world would want to delay flights because of the cost implications.

“How would I just wake up and want to delay my flight when I know I am going to incur a heavy cost?”

Further speaking, Onyema said Nigerian airlines were operating in a very hostile environment with limited infrastructure.

“The airlines are at the mercy of everybody. The owners of airlines in Nigeria are patriotic because it is not profitable. They are doing it as a service to Nigeria and should be applauded, not demonised.

“Nigerian indigenous airlines are performing under certain conditions that we should be applauded for still staying afloat. Is it forex, or fuel infrastructure? How about bird strikes in a good country? The airlines would have gone to court against FAAN for all the bird strikes because we pay for these services. Air Peace alone had had over 20 bird strikes in a year.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines and Spokesperson for AON, Prof Obiora Okonkwo, said there was huge racketeering in the aviation fuel imports to the detriment of the airlines.

According to him, selling aviation fuel above N800/litre was not acceptable as the airlines’ calculation showed that it shouldn’t be selling above N500/litre.

He said, “The authorities should make forex available and do something about the fuel racketeering. We are paying above the real cost. We are not asking for free money nor subsidy, but we are asking that the right thing be done as the burden is transferred to the travellers.”

The President/Chief Executive Officer, Top Brass Aviation, Capt. Roland Iyayi, noted that the inadequacy of critical infrastructure impacted on flight delays more than any other thing.

He said that even check-in counters were not enough, including the apron area, noting that the airports were mostly sunsets, thus unavailable for night operations.

“The truth is, have you gone to Abuja Airport during peak hours? Do you know you have about 10 airlines in one small living room? If an airline has Owerri, Enugu, Kano, Jos and Maiduguri flight schedules, those destinations should have individual desks, but it’s not so.”

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