Nigeria's commercial carriers have called off plans to unilaterally suspend all flights from Monday, May 8, after the federal government said it would "urgently intervene" and assist them given untenable Jet A1 fuel prices.

Last week, the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) told Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika that its members - MaxAir (Nigeria), United Nigeria Airlines, Air Peace, Arik Air, Aero Contractors, Azman Air, and Dana Air - could no longer operate sustainably given the continued erosion of their profitability. Another AON member, Ibom Air, chose not to participate.

“Over time, the aviation fuel price (Jet A1) has risen from NGN190 naira (USD0.46) per litre to NGN700 (USD1.69) currently. No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period. While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40% of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shot Nigeria’s operating cost up to about 95%.”

Sirika subsequently appealed to AON to defer the suspension adding that his ministry was in high-level talks with airlines, fuel providers, and other stakeholders to address the situation.

“Unfortunately the issue of fuel supply is not within the purview of the ministry, and so the most it can do in the present situation is to engage with agencies, institutions, and individuals in positions to provide succour to the airlines. This is already being done by the relevant team led by the honourable minister,” the statement read.

Following the minister's acknowledgement, AON on Sunday, May 8, called off the grounding.

"The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) wishes to inform the general public that further to numerous calls from the highest echelons in government with promises to urgently intervene in the crises being faced by airlines due to the astronomic and continuously rising cost of JetA1, that the AON has acceded to requests to withdraw the action for the time being while we allow for a fresh round of dialogue with government in the hope of reaching an amicable solution," it said.

"We have also reached this decision with the highest consideration for our esteemed customers who have been faced with uncertainty over the last few days and to enable them to have access to travel to their various destinations for the time being during the period of discussions with the relevant authorities.

"In view of the above and in the interest of national economy and security considerations, AON hereby wishes to notify the general public that the earlier announced shutdown of operations on May 9, 2022, is hereby suspended in good faith pending the outcome of hopefully fruitful engagement with the government."