The aviation industry in Nigeria has come under scrutiny in the last few months as airlines struggle with huge debts, falling passenger traffic, threat from insurers and scarcity of aviation fuel. The underlying factor being scarcity of forex.
The forex scarcity is biting hard and affecting every facet of the economy. And just today, the Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika may have made things worse following comments about the scarcity of aviation fuel. The Minister was speaking to Reuters and made these remarks;
“I was in the central bank three times since I became minister, soliciting for foreign exchange, and they have started to give airlines foreign exchange… The major challenge is that we have a foreign exchange issue.”
“While this recession will last and while this problem of forex availability will last, we’ll have to appeal to Nigerians and other people that pass through our airports to exercise patience and be aware of the situation,”
“They have the capacity to refine A1 (fuel) but they have long stopped doing that. The petroleum resources ministry and NNPC have assured us that they will resume production of Jet A1 – that is for the long term,”
While this might seem like an honest account of what the true situation is, it’s probably done more harm than good as this could dissuade foreign investors from returning to Nigeria. Firstly, he highlights the severe impact of the CBN’s forex policies which is worsening in every passing day. Investors are probably reading this and saying ‘if these guys can’t even provide fuel for their airlines, how am I going to get my money out of here?’ Secondly, Air traffic movement within the country is a critical part of doing business in Nigeria and with safety and comfort now in question, this makes it even more difficult for locals to embark on business trips let alone foreign investors.