Despite being Africa’s largest oil producer, fuel shortages in Nigeria are forcing airlines in the country to delay certain flights because of fuel delivery delays at some airports.
The latest headache during a surge in domestic travel was revealed on Monday, as the Airline Operators of Nigeria stated that they had just three days’ worth of fuel supplies.
Air Peace, Nigeria’s biggest carrier by passenger numbers, flying to Dubai and Johannesburg last week said it was likely to experience flight disruptions in the days to follow due to jet fuel scarcity.
“Unfortunately, the fuel scarcity is starting to seriously impact our operations,” Air Peace said.
Arik Air, also delayed almost all its flights last Tuesday and cancelled others, noting that there was no certainty on the situation in the coming days.
Three other airlines, Dana Air, Ibom Air and United Airlines, also released statements about facing challenges in sourcing jet fuel after their customers complained on social media.
local publications report that the price of Jet A1, the principal fuel used by airlines, range between 1.39 and 1.44 U.S. dollars per liter in the last few days, compared to the 1.08 price at which it previously sold.
What it means to Nigerians
The latest crisis to the West African nation marks a further blow to the airline sector still recovering from the effects of COVID-19 restrictions.
Airline passengers in Nigeria pay their fares in naira, which has weakened sharply due to devaluations. Fuel suppliers, however, are paid in dollars, a scarce currency in Africa’s top economy.
This has since resulted to airlines that are able to acquire the fuel and continue operating, hike their ticket costs to cover for the increased fuel costs, mounting pressure on the federal government to intervene in the matter.
The carriers have also warned that they may have no other choice but to shut down operations in the coming days when their jet fuel runs out.