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Jet A1 scarcity: Nigeria cannot afford aviation sector shutdown- Capt. Mshelia tells FG

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The Chief Executive Officer, West Link Airlines, Captain Ibrahim Mshelia, has warned that Nigeria cannot afford to have its aviation sector shutdown, saying, government should make deliberate policy to make foreign exchange and Jet A1 available to operators.

Recall that air passengers, for the past few weeks, are experiencing difficulties traveling across the country as aviation fuel which sells between N580 to N607 in Lagos, last Tuesday, now sells for N700, as at Sunday.

The scarcity, however, led to flight delays, and in some extreme cases, cancellations, thereby disrupting passengers schedule even as marketers said, Jet A1, is not readily available across the country.

However, in a chart with newsmen over the scarcity and hike in price of Jet A1, yesterday, Mshelia, said, if Jet A1 is not available, no flight can depart any airports in the country.

Mshelia, however, bemoaned Nigeria’s importation of refined fuel, especially, Jet A1, saying, the nation is at a stage where everything is shutting down.

“This is a very serious problem. We can not afford a nation without aviation, particularly a Nigerian nation.

“The earlier government make a deliberate policy to make foreign exchange available to all operators within 24 hours or a maximum of 48 hours after demand, the better.
” It is unfortunate, people who are making the policy, should allow those who are qualified to receive something, but, they have a way to smuggle illegal or unqualified people.

“As it is now, since we no longer have Jet A1 and the refineries not working, there is hardly anything that we do not import to be able to do a flight, just one flight between Abuja and Lagos for example, except that we have manpower locally trained here, that is all, every other things are imported,” he lamented.

“So, if Jet A1 is not available, no flight can depart. There is nothing you can do about it, there is no pilot who is sane and there is no insane pilot, to begin with, and there is no sane pilot who knows his fuel is not enough for the flight.

” When I say the flight, it means, we know what is required for a flight.

“The sector fuel, the one for holding, the one for diversion, and then the unusable fuel. There,  you say, the required fuel for the sector must be available.

“So, if you have 10 sectors, 15 sectors a day, and you only have fuel for one sector, you probably cancel the flight, or even just do one and just forget it or shut down completely.

“So, we are actually at the stage where everything is shutting down in Nigeria. And, we can do something about it but, those who are in a position have chosen to or either I don’t know what it is, but they are not just doing it.

“Are the solutions there? Of course they are there.

“So, until we can take care of these things and make forex available to airline operators, we are not going to see any better days.

“And, the Jet A1 thing, what is shocking is that we are the only nation on earth that has so much oil and we are importing oil.
” So, it takes about three years to build a refinery and Nigeria cannot build a refinery or repair it.

“Let’s forget about the refinery that we even have, we have land to build one million refineries if we want to, why couldn’t we do so?

“Do we have people to do it? 100 per cent we have the people to do the right thing.”

“We need to begin to ask ourselves and our government, why is it that nobody is punished for not doing anything or nobody is punished for doing the wrong thing and that is what we need to ask ourselves.

“We also need to ask ourselves as citizens, why we have taken our democracy to another level because democracy is about electing leaders and holding them accountable.”

© 2022, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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