Lagos – Hundreds of passengers were on Thursday stranded across the nation’s airports over scarcity of Jet A1, popularly known as aviation fuel, in local parlance.
This is as some of the airlines attributed the scarcity to the activities of fuel marketers who they accused of hoarding the product.
At the Lagos airport, several passengers faced flight delays and cancellations following the development. Ditto at all other airports in the country.
Investigations by INDEPENDENT revealed that only very few flights operated on schedules as flights going from Lagos to major destinations such as Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Owerri and Enugu were either cancelled or delayed.
One of the affected airlines told INDEPENDENT that the inability of petroleum tanker drivers to lift aviation fuel from Apapa tank farms in Lagos as a result of the gridlock on that axis caused the scarcity.
The airline operator warned that if the Apapa gridlock continues the situation would worsen for them at the weekend, which is usually the busiest period for airline business.
Chris Iwarah, spokesman, Air Peace, said the airline had put plans in place to continue operations in spite of the problem.
Iwarah said: “The scarcity is affecting flights to some extent at the moment, but we are still relying on our stock and the arrangement we made with the suppliers.
“However, nobody knows whether it may become more difficult, but for now, we are trying to see how we can manage the plans we have on ground to ensure that the impact is only minimal.”
One of the passengers affected by the delay told INDEPENDENT that she had been at the airport for 10.00a.m flight to Abuja but was delayed for about three hours as the airline announced that the delay was as a result of aviation fuel scarcity.
Another airline source said that toward December period, marketers tend to increase the cost of fuel and this development may paralyse aviation activities during the yuletide.
“Fuel scarcity started last weekend and it may worsen over time. December last year, airlines operated less than 30 percent of their schedules because of fuel scarcity. Marketers often increase fuel price as Christmas draws near and this will cause airlines to increase airfares,” the airline source added.
The airline operator added that the tradition of creating scarcity by marketers has made aviation fuel price increase by 10 percent daily.