© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man is seen on arrival at the domestic wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on its re-opening day for domestic flight operations, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Abuja, in Abuja, Nigeria July 8, 2020. RE

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigerian airline Ibom Air on Saturday said it will not take part in an industry plan to stop flights from Monday over the high cost of jet fuel, saying the move would affect revenues needed to service obligations to financiers and suppliers.

The Airline Operators of Nigeria association said on Friday that members will stop local flights from Monday until further notice.

Ibom Air, one of the smaller members of the nine airline association, is the first to say it will not participate in grounding flights.

The association said jet fuel has risen to 700 naira ($1.69) per litre in Nigeria from 190 naira over a short period and that the cost of a one-hour flight has more than doubled to 120,000 naira, a price it said was unsustainable.

Ibom Air, backed by Akwa Ibom state, said high jet fuel posed a threat but stopping operations would exacerbate the situation due to obligations and that customers have paid in advance for flights.

In November, Ibom Air signed a firm order for ten Airbus A220 planes at the Dubai Airshow.

The aviation ministry said on Saturday it was concerned about the difficulties and the spiraling air fares due to jet fuel cost but appealed to the airlines to consider the effects of a shutdown on travelers at home and abroad.

A previous threat by the association to stop flights over high costs was averted by government financial assistance.

Separately, Air Peace, Nigeria’s biggest carrier by passenger numbers, flying to Dubai and Johannesburg, has warned of flight disruptions due to jet fuel scarcity.

($1 = 414.6900 naira)

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