Airlines’ Service Withdrawal Business Decision, Not Strike Against Government – Aviation Ministry

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On Sunday, the Ministry of Aviation called the perception that the pullout was a protest against the government “false.”

The Ministry insisted in a statement signed by James Odaudu, the Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation on Public Affairs, that the Association’s decision is purely commercial, as they are private businesses reacting to market forces but requesting interventions to allow them to continue operating.

“Since members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) issued a notice of withdrawal of flight services as a result of rising costs of Jet A1 (aviation fuel), and despite the Ministry’s initial statement, inquiries have continued to flood in, with some mistaking the withdrawal for a strike against the government.”

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We would want to emphasise that the Association’s choice is solely a commercial decision, as they are private firms responding to market forces but requesting assistance to allow them to continue operating.

“The Ministry has always made conscious efforts to assist members of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), including facilitating a meeting between the Association and Mr President, during which the Association obtained a number of concessions, including duty-free importation of aircraft, engines, spare parts, and components.”

“At various times, the Minister personally took members of the Association to meet with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to resolve issues of access to Foreign Exchange (FOREX) for their operations, as well as the NNPC to explore ways of ensuring the availability of Aviation fuel (JET A1) through importation or from major Marketers.”

“It should also be remembered that during the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Association were considered for, and provided Bail-out funding to the tune of N4 billion to guarantee that they remained afloat.” This was despite the fact that the majority of them were substantially in debt to aviation agencies (as they still are).

“We feel that the Association’s members are patriots who have persisted to bear the weight of an unfavourable oil market, and we applaud their perseverance.”

“It is encouraging that Association members have begun to reconsider the decision to suspend flight services, with Ibom Air Green Africa Airlines, Arik Air, Dana, and others stating that their normal flight schedules will be maintained.” We hope that other members would reconsider their vote after considering the likely impact on businesses and individuals.

“We also want to reassure foreign airlines operating in the country that all logistics and services for their operations will continue to operate normally, with no disruptions expected.”

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In part, the statement states, “As a government, we reiterate our commitment to the sustained growth of the aviation industry, where airlines and other service providers operate in a profitable and competitive environment.”

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