Air Peace, Nigeria’s largest airline, notified customers that it will be suspending all flights to Johannesburg due to fuel shortages and Visa delays.
This announcement comes amidst a troubling aviation crisis in the country, which has been caused by lingering debts, the harrowing effects of the pandemic, inflation and a national fuel shortage.
A troubling fuel crisis
As Nigerian Aviation minister Hadi Sirika stated in a press briefing, the difficulties occurring in the aviation industry are not unique to Nigeria, and there are no ‘short term solutions’ to solve the crippling industry However, these issues appear to be exacerbated in the West African nation. The cost of aviation fuel has gone up to N822 ($1.97) per litre, almost 400% since the beginning of the year, putting an erroneous strain on national air carriers and causing several to close operations entirely.
The scarcity of fuel is prompted by numerous factors, including the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, global inflation and Nigeria’s peculiar position of being oil-rich yet constantly importing said oil. The latter issue is worsened by the continual downfall of the Nigerian economy, which has seen the value of the Naira plummet. Remarking on this issue, Vice Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria Allen Onyema stated,
“We have come to realise that there is little or nothing (we) can do because this is as a result of foreign exchange and the price of oil all over the world. The fuel marketers will sell according to what they are paying. The cost of aviation fuel has increased, even in London and other country. Our own is worse because of the increase in foreign exchange.”
The Visa issue
Air Peace states that as more Nigerians struggle to obtain Visas to South Africa, the airline is also finding it difficult to fill up seats. In a report issued explaining this dilemma, the airline stated,
“This development is regretted but has become inevitable due to the delayed issuance of South African visas to travellers, worsening forex crunch and the increasing cost of aviation fuel as well as its scarcity.”
However, the airline’s operators appear hopeful that a solution can be found. Further speaking on the issue it stated that,
‘…Having informed the South African High Commission in Lagos of the effects of the difficulty in getting SA visas by Nigerians, which consequence is the abysmally low passenger loads on our flights to and from Johannesburg, we believe that the situation will have improved within the next 60 days…’
This announcement was made despite the fact that other airlines, such as Togo’s ASKY, seem to be transporting passengers on the Nigeria to Johannesburg route with no visa-related issues.
The airline has arranged for affected passengers to either receive a refund or to rebook their trips before August 22 or after October 8. What do you make of these troubling circumstances Air Peace finds itself in?