Some members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have reviewed their decision to withdraw services across the country from Monday, the Federal Government has assured Nigerians.
Mr James Odaudu, the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.
Ahead of the planned withdrawal of services by AON, he stated that at least four of the airline operators have given assurance of continued operations while others were reviewing their decision.
“It is gratifying that members of the association 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,” said Odaudu.
“We hope that other members will consider the expected impact on businesses and individuals and review their decision. We also wish to assure foreign airlines operating in the country that all logistics and services for their operations remain in place as usual and that no disruptions whatsoever should be envisaged.”
According to him, the ministry has received a series of enquiries since airline operators issued a notice of withdrawal of flight services as a result of the rising cost of Jet A1 (aviation fuel).
The minister’s spokesman stated that the decision of the association was purely a business one, saying members were private businesses reacting to market forces but appealing for interventions to enable them to carry on with their operations.
He added that the ministry has made conscious efforts to assist the group, including facilitating a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, during which they got several concessions such as duty-free importation of aircraft, engines, spare parts, and other components.
“The honourable minister at various times personally took members of the association to engage with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sort out issues of access to foreign exchange (FOREX) for their operations, and also the NNPC to exploit ways of ensuring the availability of Aviation fuel (JET A1) through importation or from the major marketers,” Odaudu said.
“It should also be recalled that members of the association were also considered for and given bail-out funds to the tune of N4 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that they remained afloat.
“This was without prejudice to the fact that most of them were heavily indebted to aviation agencies (as they still are). We believe that members of the association are patriots who have continued to bear the brunt of an unfavourable oil market for which we salute their doggedness.”
The government, according to the minister’s spokesman, remains committed to the continued growth of the aviation industry where airlines and other service providers operate in a profitable and competitive environment.