The minister, who held an emergency meeting with the Airline Operators Association of Nigeria (AON) in Abuja on Tuesday, said the variables impacting the crises in the aviation sector are beyond the industry’s control. Thus there is no immediate solution.
Sirika said there is no short term solution because of the variables involved especially because it is a global problem.
“Energy crisis is real and it is global. Today, there is an aviation fuel problem all over the world, from America to New Zealand. It is aggravating in Nigeria because we don’t produce the product. It’s aggravated also because the foreign exchange is scarce in Nigeria, the source of earning the foreign exchange also has dwindled,” he explained.
He reiterated that the federal government had in the past sourced 10,000 metric tons of aviation fuel for the airlines, adding that the government was willing to do more.
“As we speak, the government is in the process of finding a permanent solution to this issue,” he said.
Some of the solutions, he said, include, “importation of the product at appropriate price, accelerating the refurbishment of our refineries and also waiting for the coming on stream of Dangote Refinery to boost supply of the product.”
“So when you ask how soon, I wouldn’t know when Dangote will come on stream; I wouldn’t know how soon the refineries will be filled. I wouldn’t know when imports would become sufficient. But the government is working towards all these to happen,” he said.
He also said he would meet with relevant stakeholders including the Central Bank of Nigeria so the airlines can access dollars at the official market rate rather than the black market rate.
The president of AON, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, in his comment said the aviation fuel crises began from N180 per litre and now stood at N1000 per litre.
He also said the Forex crisis was a huge burden on the industry.
“The rate at which the dollar is escalating now is very alarming. Every day, a difference between 10-15 naira is added at the parallel market. Last week, it was N610 but today, it is N670 to one dollar,” he said.
He called on the minister to intervene.
Also commenting, Mr Allen Oyeama, the vice president of AON, said the AON was satisfied with the government intervention in the industry.
“It is not easy to give a timeline to issues like this because the challenge is global. Even the American airlines are threatened too. It’s not only Nigeria. This is why they are eating the government? But we are pleased so far,” he said.