• Several Nigerian airlines want to ground domestic flights from Monday due to high jet fuel costs.
  • On Friday, the Airline Operators of Nigeria issued a statement, which was seen by BBC News.
  • An umbrella body representing the airlines said the cost of jet fuel has soared nearly fourfold this year.

Nigeria's biggest airlines are threatening to stop domestic flights from Monday as a result of the rise in jet fuel prices, according to the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).

In a statement issued on Friday, the AON, which represents nine of the country's domestic carriers, said that the cost of imported jet fuel had increased nearly fourfold as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The statement was seen by BBC News and Reuters, and widely circulated on social media.

As a result, airline operating costs had risen from about 40% to nearly 95%, and operators had already subsidized their services to passengers over the past four months, the AON said.

"No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period," the AON's president, Dr. Abdulmunaf Yunusa Sarina, said in its statement.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine created a disruption in the global distribution of crude oil. This, combined with high demand for travel, has caused the cost of airline tickets to soar.

AON said that its airline members had previously engaged with the Nigerian government, its state-owned oil company, and fuel marketers in an effort to bring down the cost of jet fuel. It said the cost can not be passed on to passengers as it was "unsustainable" for airlines who can "no longer absorb the pressure," per the statement.

One signatory to the statement, Azman Air, confirmed on Twitter that it plans to suspend domestic flights from Monday until further notice. Similarly, United Nigeria Airlines appeared to make a statement by posting a screenshot of the news to its own Twitter account. 

However, at least one airline is not on board with this plan. Ibom Air, which flies to seven cities in Nigeria, is listed as a signatory on the statement. But it said on Saturday it will not halt its domestic flights from Monday as such a move would affect revenues and impact its commitments to suppliers and financiers, per a Reuters report.

Nigeria's competition watchdog – the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) – urged the AON to reconsider its plans, saying in a statement posted on Saturday on its Twitter account that they could create a "magnitude of difficulties" for passengers.

It also appeared to warn airlines not to sell tickets for flights it does not plan to go ahead with.

"The Commission is concerned with rising consumer feedback that airlines have continued to sell tickets beyond the date announced for proposed service shutdown," FCCPC chief executive said in the statement. 
"It will be egregious exploitation of consumers and a violation of law to purport to sell a service that the service provider knows it will not, or does not intend to provide or deliver," it added.

The AON and FCCPC did not immediately respond to Insider's request for further comment.

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