Air travel has seen a surge in popularity in recent times, with more and more Nigerians looking to it as a means for quick and comfortable transport across long destinations. The approaching holidays also represent a period when several Nigerians may have to commute over long distances to get to their loved ones on time, thus also representing a period of increased air travel.
This is not likely to be the case this year. Yes, loved ones will want to make the trips, but the chronic scarcity of aviation fuel, used to power airplanes is already making air travel more of a problematic delay than a rapid comfort.
Yesterday alone, the Guardian reports about three out of every four flights were cancelled, with operators citing “operational reasons”, while one of the airlines operating at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT), cancelled all flights on Monday, and left passengers to learn of the development on getting to the airport.
This has meant that several passengers have remained stranded despite booking their flights ahead of time. Their colleagues who decided to take road transport would probably have finished their business and returned to their base, while jet fuel is still being sourced.
A passenger who had been stranded for two days said “This is a flight I had booked since last week. I got here on Monday, only to be told that the flight has been cancelled. No call, no text message, no mail, nothing. Canceled just like that. They said there is no fuel. I’ve been at the airport since morning (Tuesday), the same flight has been delayed for four hours. It is still not certain if we will even fly today.”
Nigeria totally depends on importation of jet fuel as it does not locally produce it in any of its refineries. As such, importation of the product is liable to the pressures created by the scarcity of the dollar, as well as the rapidly plunging value of the Naira.