Allow us to Buy Fuel Directly to address Scarcity-AON

The Aviation Operators of Nigeria (AON) has explained that the scarcity of aviation fuel can be addressed if airliners are allowed to purchase it directly.

Allen Onyema, Vice-President of AON who stated this during a meeting of House of Representatives with aviation stakeholders on Monday said, “We were told here at the last meeting that fuel would be sold to us at N500 which we protested that it was still on the high side because even when fuel was selling at N200 or N250, the operating cost was about 40 per cent

It rose to N400 and N450, and that was when we were alarmed, and you noticed that everybody tweaked his inventory when we now raised our base fare to about N50,000, which did not address the matter.

“We were invited to the house, and when we came here, it was reached that they would give us fuel at N500 within three days. That never happened. We continued writing, and nothing happened.

“Much later, we were invited by the midstream and downstream authority and we were told that the president approved 25,000 metric tonnes for us as a palliative to help us. We were very grateful to the president. We were happy. We were told to nominate marketers that would market this product for us.

“We were told to have a meeting with these marketers. We called all the marketers and held a meeting with them. We decided the logistics, so they would take their logistical costs and everything, and at the end of the day that fuel was getting to them, they told us at N335, so we put everything together, and it would be getting to less than N400 for the cost, and we said even if they sell to us at N450 it would be okay.

“We were told that a week later that is when the consignment would be arriving in Nigeria and when this happened, the next we got to hear from the marketers was that they had already been given the consignment that we were all jostling for. So we waited thinking that they would sell as agreed. They never.”

Onyema added that the matter was reported to Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, but no action was taken.

“I called the MD of NNPC in the presence of our members. He replied, saying there was no way they would leave us to get direct products that that was dangerous.

“With due respect, Mr Speaker, we were not striking. We did not intend to go on a strike. It was not a strike. What AON was saying on Friday when we released our communique was that we do not have the money anymore to pay,” he said.

In his own contribution, Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said the apex bank has no control over the flow of the dollar.

He said, “We do not have FX to sell. It would be difficult for us to grant any concession. It means we would be taking a hit or we would be providing some sort of subsidy for the industry.”

Meanwhile, the NNPC insisted that it will not fix price for aviation fuel, asking airlines to seek import license.

This was disclosed by the Corporation’s Group Managing Director, Kyari in a statement issued after the stakeholders meeting.

According to him, aviation fuel cannot have a fixed price because it is a deregulated product.

He said, “So you cannot hold unto any price and indeed what you have seen in the media is N700 reference point. It cannot be a reference point. It depends on the market condition. It can be higher than N700 depending on the market. This market shifts. As we speak, it is closely related to the price of crude oil.

“It is our role to ensure we intervene. We did. We brought in products so that we can dampen the price. In March and April, we brought in cargo and made it available to the entire industry at N460.

“There is a build-up to that price. When the customer takes marine at N435, he has to transport to the charter vessel, bring it to his depot, to his fuel station and transport it. So there cannot be two same prices in Lagos and Maiduguri.”

According to the statement, the airline operators are expected to commence the process of securing a license for the importation of aviation fuel to avoid suspicion over the landing cost of the product and other associated logistic issues.

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