Scarcity of aviation fuel, also known as Jet A1, has reportedly slowed down the airlift of pilgrims from the just concluded hajj in Saudi Arabia.
Daily Trust said Nigerian carriers participating in the exercise were facing hard times getting aviation fuel to run their aircraft.
The scarcity started since the beginning of the week, affecting outbound flights of Skypower Express Airlines, a charter operator who participated in the hajj exercise.
It was learnt that no fewer than 265 pilgrims who were to be conveyed by Skypower were delayed at the King Abdul-Aziz International Airport, Jeddah before they were eventually airlifted. They landed at 7:45hrs yesterday, Daily Trust reports.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Skypower Express Airlines, Capt.Muhammed Joji, confirmed the development.
He said the airline couldn’t purchase fuel in Lagos and Kano, adding it had to buy the product at exorbitant price to be able to airlift the pilgrims.
He explained that at least 265 pilgrims of the carrier were airlifted out of Saudi Arabia on Thursday night on a Boeing 777 aircraft leased from a local operator.
He added that another batch of 265 pilgrims would be airlifted back to Nigeria today. He said scarcity of Jet A1 in the domestic market is seriously disrupting flight operations.
“We don’t have fuel anywhere in Nigeria. We tried to get in Lagos, Kano and other airports, but we couldn’t get any. This unfortunately, affected the airlift of our pilgrims back to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia.
“But, the issue has been resolved as we were able to bring in 265 pilgrims on Friday morning with a B777 aircraft. The aircraft has since returned to bring back the same number of our pilgrims.
“I think this is sabotage. How can a country have three refineries and can’t get aviation fuel to supply to its airlines. Apart from local operators, other foreign carriers operating into Nigeria are equally faced with the same challenge. It’s high time we settled this issue one and for all,” he said.