AON gives 16 reasons for flight delays, frowns at comments by senate c’tte on aviation

The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) has frowned at the recent comments by the chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi over the alleged delay of passengers up to nine hours by the operators.

During a joint oversight visit by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Aviation to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in Lagos recently, the Senator is reported to have said that domestic airlines delay passengers for 4 – 9 hours and should the local carriers fail to sit up, foreign airlines would be invited to operate domestic flights in the country.

In a statement, the AON President and Vice-president, Alhaji Yunus Abdulmunaf and Mr. Allen Onyema say, such comments only serve to aggravate sentiments and send wrong message to passengers and the general public.

According to them, globally, commercial airlines, Nigeria inclusive, are set up with strict adherence to flight times, adding that, schedules are put in place not only for the benefit of customers but also to allow the airlines maximize the use of their aircraft in order to meet up with their laid out targets.

They stated that, airlines in Nigeria are forced to operate in an environment that is wrought with infrastructure deficiencies that are highly disruptive to normal schedule reliability and on time performance and with such situations airline will be bogged down by delays that they have no control over.

“While flight delays and cancellations occur all over the world, it is however instructive to note that in Nigeria, 80% of the causes of delays and cancellations are due to factors that are neither in the control of airlines nor caused by them”.

The AON therefore listed 16 prevalent causes of delays and cancellations to include amongst others; weather, inadequate aircraft parking space due to congested Aprons, restrictions caused by Sunset Airports, delays due to VIP movement and frequent Bird Strikes and Foreign Object Damage.

“Again, because of a deficit in navigational and visual aids, most of the airports in Nigeria are open between 6am and 6pm. Once an airline misses this window as a result of one or more of the above mentioned delays, airlines are forced to cancel scheduled flights to such destinations”.

The statement also mentioned systemic failures which have hampered on time departures like unavailability and rising cost of Aviation Fuel, unavailability of Forex for spare parts and maintenance, unserviceable Baggage Claim Machines, inadequate screening and exit points at departure, lack of Runway Lights Poor air traffic flow among others.

“Jet A1 today costs above N410 in Lagos, N422 in Abuja and Port Harcourt, and N429 in Kano per litre and has continued to rise fast and steadily. On top of the continuous rise in the fuel price, fuel supply is at best epileptic at several airports thereby causing delays. Supply nationally is at best unpredictable and several times a day, airlines are standing, waiting for fuel to be supplied at airports across the country”.

“Airlines carryout most of their activities in dollars which today sells for between N580 to N600 and is in short supply. Nigeria’s domestic airlines are in a ‘life and death’ struggle to secure the Forex they need to acquire their spare parts to maintain their aircraft. This is a major influence on how quickly a grounded aircraft can be fixed and restored to its flight schedule, which in turn has a huge impact on the schedule reliability of the domestic airlines”.

The AON leadership assured that, if these issues are to be fixed today by the concerned authorities, the frequent delays passengers experience in the domestic system would immediately reduce by 80%.

The body urged Public Office holders and passengers to understand their predicaments and to seek for information first so that they have the insights they need to help solve the problems that hinder the domestic air transport system.

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