Nigeria’s Ibom Air rejects industry plan to halt flights over jet fuel cost

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FILE PHOTO: A man is seen arriving at the inner wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on the day it reopened for domestic flight operations, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19 ), in Abuja, in Abuja, Nigeria on July 8, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

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ABUJA, May 7 (Reuters) – Nigerian carrier Ibom Air said on Saturday it would not participate in an industry plan to halt flights from Monday due to the high cost of jet fuel, saying that this decision would affect the revenues needed to service obligations to financiers and Suppliers.

The Air Operators Association of Nigeria said on Friday that members will halt local flights from Monday until further notice. Read more

Ibom Air, one of the smallest members of the association of nine airlines, is the first to say it will not participate in grounding flights.

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The association said jet fuel rose from 190 naira to 700 naira ($1.69) a liter in Nigeria in a short period and the cost of a one-hour flight more than doubled to 120,000 naira, a price which she said was unsustainable.

Ibom Air, backed by the state of Akwa Ibom, said high jet fuel posed a threat but halting operations would make matters worse due to obligations and the fact that customers had prepaid for flights.

In November, Ibom Air signed a firm order for ten Airbus (AIR.PA) A220 aircraft at the Dubai Airshow.

The Ministry of Aviation said on Saturday it was concerned about the difficulties and skyrocketing airfares due to the cost of jet fuel, but called on airlines to consider the effects of a closure on travelers at home and abroad.

A previous threat from the association to stop flights over high costs was averted thanks to government financial aid.

Separately, Air Peace, Nigeria’s largest carrier by number of passengers, serving Dubai and Johannesburg, warned of flight disruptions due to jet fuel shortages.

($1 = 414.6900 naira)

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Additional reporting by Felix Onuah Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel

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