By Elizabeth Chukwuma
When Captain Mfo Udom, Managing Director, Ibom Air, owned by the Akwa Ibom state government and his Management Team, took, a decision not to withdraw their services from the nation’s airports on Monday, May 9, 2022, as agreed by the Aviation Association Of Nigeria, AON, members , they were castigated in in several quarters. But the Ibom airline officials stood their ground.
Allen Onyema, a Lawyer and Chairman Air Peace, Shehu Wada Executive Director, Max Air, Roy Ilegbodu, Chief Executive Officer Arik Air, and Four CEOs of other Airlines, including the Managing Director of Azman Air, Faisal Abdulmunaf, who incidentally is the president of AON, had boasted that that ‘‘despite various interventions in the last 24 hours they are not backing down on their decision to suspend operations in response to the economic and continuously rising cost of JETA1’’.
Recall that Abdulmunaf, President, AON, had told the relevant Authorities at various meetings that aviation fuel cost about 40% of airlines operating cost globally but with the N700.00 per litre, which the airlines spent to fuel their aircrafts, as against N190.00 per litre, paid previously to fuel their air aircrafts which cost much on each flight schedule, it has shut up the operating cost of the airlines, across the country airports to 95% which may ground some of the airlines that may no longer cope if not quickly resolved by the government. He had said that the price of a litre of JETa1, at N700.00 had made the cost per Seat for a one hour flight in Nigeria today to be an average of N120,000.00.
President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, who had jetted out to Abdjan, Capital of Cote D’Ivoire, on Sunday, May 8, 2022, to attend a United Nations, UN, Conference on ‘‘the future of the land’’ , regarding desertification, drought, degredation, rights, restoration and its implications for national and the global economy had deployed his foot soldiers allegedly led by Hadi Seriki, minister of Aviation who said to have to penetrate the ranks of the airline operators as they became divided with the hardliners still ‘‘bent on withdrawing their services from the airports till further notice’’.
Abdulmunaf, Managing Director, Azman Air and President, AON, may have read the handwriting on the wall that they have lost out as the Presidency had penetrated their ranks which has divided them into those in support of the withdrawal of their services from the airports and those against it
Feelers from the AON, Headquarters, shows, that some members of the Association had a reviewed their decision to withdraw their services across the country from Monday,May 9, 2022. Among the airlines which were said to have reviewed their decision to back down in the planned suspension of operations were Green African Airlines, Arik Air, Dana and four CEOs of other airlines.They were said to have told their customers that ‘’they will carry on with their normal flight schedules’’ as usual on Monday, May 2022.
The Value News had reported in its last edition that the Ibom Air Management decision not to be part of the AON, decision to suspend operations would rub off on other Airlines. True to the Magazine prediction, it has come to pass, which may have informed why the Association Leadership had bowed to pressure from several quarters to reverse itself.
Perhaps, to give the impression that they have succeeded in shaking the Presidency by securing a good deal that the JETA1, price per litre, will be reviewed down wards may have informed why the AON Members had said facilitated the suspension of the decision to withdraw their services at the all the airports across the country.
In justifying the decision to suspend the withdrawal of their services on Sunday, May 8, 20222, ahead of the Monday, May 9, 2022, slated for the implementation of the AON Leadership decision, the Association had said that that ‘’the highest echelon of government had given his word to urgently intervene in the crises being faced by the airlines due to the astronomic and continuously rising cost of JETA1.
AON Executives may have alluded to the Katsina state born Nigerian President who was said to have made numerous calls to the Leadership of AON, to back down on their planned action. The AON officials were said to have told those that cares to listen that they have reached ‘’the decision with the highest consideration for their esteemed customers all over the country who were faced with uncertainty over the last few days and to enable them to have access to travel to travel back to various destinations’’ without facing the troubles of the bandits, terrorists , kidnappers and other criminal elements by putting their vehicle on the road.
It is not surprising why the AON Leadership noted that they had acceded to the President and other weLL-meaning Nigerians requests. Some Presidential aspirants on the ticket of the ruling All Progressivell Congress, APC, and the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, who were said to have to have also intervened to force the AON members to change their mind over the decision to withdraw their services at the airports.
They may` have sent a message to the travelling public that the suspension of the decision to withdraw their services from the country’s airports was for ‘’the time being to allow for a fresh round of dialogue with the government with the hope of reaching an amicable solution’’. The message was very clear that if the government fail to meet their demand by reducing the high cost of JETa1, they would go back to the trenches.
Eriki, the Aviation minister, who poke through James Odaudu, his Special Assistant, Public Affairs, may have gladened the mind of the Airline Operators when he said that ‘‘ the government remains committed to the continued growth of the nation’s aviation industry where airlines and other service providers will operate in a profitable and competitive environment’’.
He noted that without prejudice to the fact that most of them are heavily indebted to the airlines, members of AON were considered and given bailout funds to the tune of N4 billion during the period of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, that had ravaged the entire world to ensure that they remained afloat, meaning that that the government had not abandoned them to their fate.
The Aviation minister may have spoken the mind of the Nigerian President when he said’’, we believe that members of AON, who have continued to bear the brunt of an unfavourable oil market would continue to doso’’, meaning that they should not expect much from the government.
We salute their doggedness, he had remarked.