Over the past week or so, several Nigerian commercial operators have issued statements warning the government, and the country at large, that a worsening shortage of aviation fuel could lead to a grounding of all flights if not properly addressed.

Air Peace (P4, Lagos) and Arik Air (W3, Lagos) last week said in separate statements that a recent spate of cancellations would only get worse given the protracted scarcity of Jet A1.

“The situation is critical in Lagos and Abuja, the operational hubs of Arik Air, and the airline has warned that if the situation is not addressed as a priority by the marketers, more flights could be delayed or cancelled,” airline spokesman, Adebanji Ola, said in a statement.

Though Africa's largest oil producer, Nigeria, ironically, has to import its Jet A1. But, given the collapse in the value of the Nigerian naira in recent months and given a tight scarcity of available foreign currency, importers have struggled to source enough product to satiate local demand.

“For quite some time now, there has been a general scarcity of Jet-A1 fuel in the country. Since the development, we have resorted to different alternative sources to secure the product to ensure that flight delays did not disrupt the programmes of our numerous loyal customers," Air Peace's Chief Operating Officer (COO), Oluwatoyin Olajide, said.

“Although this has proved very costly for us to manage, we have spared nothing in our bid to source aviation fuel for our operations. We, however, regret that despite our huge efforts, we have not been able to secure enough fuel to run our operations without some hitches."

The scarcity of foreign currency has also affected local operators' regional West African flights. Unable to source enough US dollars at a competitive rate to pay its Ghanaian operating costs, Dana Air (9J, Lagos) and Aero Contractors (N2, Lagos) recently suspended their respective Accra flights.