‘Airlines cancel 95, delay 2,815 flights in March’
• Blame fuel, forex scarcity
Eight airlines operating domestic flights in the country were responsible for a total of 95 cancelled flights and 2,815 delays out of a total of 4,892 flights operated in March.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in its summary reports of complaints received against international and domestic airlines for the month of March 2016, gave the details on how the likes of Aero Contractors; Arik Air; Azman Air; Dana Air; Medview; Overland; First Nation and Air Peace all performed.
Apparently in response, the operators have said that the NCAA’s fact sheet was a reflection of one too many challenges facing the sector, among which is the current shortage in aviation fuel supply and attendant rationing among airlines.
In the breakdown, the country’s flag carrier, Arik Air, had the highest number of flights operated, put at 1,234. Out of the total, 759 were delayed and 31 cancelled.
Aero Contractors follows with 946 number of flights operated, 547 delayed flights while a total of 33 flights were cancelled in March.
Air Peace also operated 940 flights, 404 delayed and only one cancelled.
Medview came next with a total of 484 flights operated, 299 delayed, while a total of eights flights were canceled.
Dana Air operated a total number of 450 flights, out of which 248 were delayed and none cancelled.
Azman Air operated 437 flights in March, of which 348 were delayed and three cancelled.
Next is Overland, with a total of 222 flights operated, 169 delayed and 19 cancelled flights.
First Nation operated the least number of flights, with a total of 179, 41 delayed but none cancelled.
From findings, the operators are also groaning particularly on the current state of fuel shortage biting in the sector.
The Guardian gathered that operators have overtime been facing difficulties in getting the needed volume of fuel, known as Jet A1, leading to delay and sometimes flights cancellation.
The situation accounts for some rationing and sharing of the product at the ramp, from one aircraft to another.
“The situation is affecting all of us but it is entirely beyond what airlines can help. What is our gain to delay or cancel a scheduled flight?” an official said.
Sources have that Arik, which at the peak of operation requires about 1.2 million litres of Jet A1 fuel for its flights could only source about 700, 000 litres and sometimes less.
Also, Dana Air delayed flights last Friday because of inadequate supply of aviation fuel, though it did not cancel any of its flights, according to a source from the airline.
Chief Executive Officer, Aero Contractors, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, in an interview, observed that the Nigerian aviation environment is definitely going through a hard time largely because it is very dependent on foreign exchange availability.
Akinkuotu said: “Essentially, we have a situation where the industry is driven in foreign exchange. So, it is tough for us in the aviation industry. You’d realise that fares have not gone up. So times are tough.”
Continuing, he said: “Fuel and maintenance are major cost items. They are foreign exchange driven. Of course, the fact that we may not have as many people travelling now as we did in recent past, again has impacted on how the airlines are doing or how well they will be,” he said.
In the month under review, a total of 12 baggage went missing and five of them were found.
For the summary of complaints received against international airlines for the month under review, a total of 35 airlines operated 1,508 flights.
The airlines are Aero, African World, Air Cote d’Ivoire, Air France, Alitalia, Altas Air, Arik, ASKY, British Airways, Camair-Co, Cronos Air, Dana, Delta Air, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Air, Etihad, Gambia Bird, Iberia, and Kenya Airways.
Others are KLM, Lufthansa, Max Air, Medview, Middle East Airlines, Qatar, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordan, Rwandair, Saudi Air, Sudan Air, South African Airways, Turkish Air, United and Virgin Atlantic Airways.
A total of 605 were delayed and 28 cancelled. Total number of in-bound passengers is 168,534 and 180,372 for the out-bound passengers.
The report shows that Arik tops the chart with 234 operated flights, 149 delays and seven cancelled flights. Total number of in-bound passengers is 16,285 and 17,009 for passengers in the out-bound category and had a total number of 87 complain cases resolved or compensated.
French carrier, Air France ranks highest with the most number of pilferage and discourtesy. A total of 93 cases involving passengers’ luggage pilfered were reported and documented, while delayed or missing baggage were 163 for the month under review.