Indication that airlines plying Nigeria’s domestic routes may shut down operations emerged on Friday, as the country appear to have exhausted it’s stock of aviation fuel (popularly called Jet 1).

It was learnt that in the last three days, some of the country’s leading airlines have had to scale down their daily flight schedules (postponing or delaying flights) due to scarcity of aviation fuel to power aircraft in their fleet.

The trend had led to numerous passengers being left stranded at some of the nation’s airports. According to the spokesman for Arik Air, Mr. Banji Ola oil marketers have already informed airlines that the country had ran out of stock.

“The scarcity became evident few days ago when oil marketers started rationing JET A1 supply to airlines stating limited stock at the depots,” said Ola.

“Arik Air has to alert air travellers of the severe aviation fuel (JET A1) scarcity. The situation is critical in Lagos and Abuja, the operational hubs of Arik Air and the airline has warned that if the situation is not addressed as a priority by the marketers, more flights could be delayed or cancelled,” Ola added.

Arik Air, the largest consumer of aviation fuel in Nigeria operates more than 120 daily flights and its daily fuel requirement is about 500,000 liters. This means that Arik Air will be most affected by the scarcity and delay in marketers to source and deliver fuel to the airlines. The other airlines are Aero Contractors, Dana Air, Air Peace, Azman Air, First Nation, and Med-View Airline. At the root of the fuel supply crisis is the inability of marketers to source for the requisite foreign exchange (forex) to import the Jet A1 fuel into the country with the exchange rate of US dollar to the naira rising over the weekend to N360 to a $1.

Ola said: Where flights are likely to be delayed, the airline will notify passengers through SMS. In case of flight being cancelled due to limited supply of fuel by marketers, passengers will be accommodated on first available alternative flight at no cost as the law demands.