The immediate past chairman of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Tunji Oyebanji, has accused airline operators of trying to force the Federal government to introduce subsidy into the aviation industry.
Oyebanji said the cries of the airline operators over rising cost of operation is a ploy to make government control the price of aviation fuel, which could create similar economic problems experienced with petrol subsidy.
The airline operators had initially announced that the companies would suspend flight operation from May 9 over rising cost of aviation fuel, known as Jet A1 or Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK), which rose from N190 to N700 per litre.
However, Ripples Nigeria reported that the airline companies pulled out of the decision in the final minutes, following the decision by some members, such as Ibom Air and Dana Air, not to go ahead with the planned suspension.
Airlines involved in the planned suspension were Air Peace, Max Air, Arik Air, Dana Air, Azman Air, United Nigeria Airlines, and Aero Contractors – foreign airlines operating in Nigeria didn’t participate despite buying Jet A1 at the same cost from oil marketers.
In response to the airline operators initial decision to shutdown flights, Oyebanji said on Arise TV, during an interview on Sunday, that it was an attempt to arm-twist the government into taking control of the Jet A1 price like that of refined crude, rather than allow the market forces determine the cost.
He questioned why the airline operators didn’t take advantage of the opportunity given to them to import the aviation fuel themselves if they are complaining of the cost they buy it from the current oil & gas importers.
Oyebanji explained that the solution to the rising cost of Jet A1 is for airline operators to increase ticket price to reflect the hike in cost of operation, and allow air passengers pay for it.
“Airline operators are trying to pressure government to control prices by fiat. In the alternative, let people pay the appropriate price for airline tickets. Aviation is not a social welfare business. Why are international airlines that we also sell to, not threatening to stop flights?”