Nigerian airlines finally shelved plans to suspend all flights due to high fuel prices. The announcement came just hours before the measure was due to take effect.

The decision had been announced on Friday. According to Reuters, the high cost of fuel has pushed most companies into negative financial territory. The price of Jet-A soared – worldwide – after the Russian invasion drove oil to prices not seen in almost ten years.

The increase in Nigeria has been almost unprecedented: from 190 nairas per liter in the middle of last year, it is now available for no less than 700 nairas. This increase, according to the companies, has pushed up their operating costs by 95%.

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While the increase in the price of crude oil has had some impact, devaluations of the Nigerian currency have also played their part. Fuel suppliers pay in dollars, a scarce currency in Nigeria, while fares are charged in naira.

This mix has pushed the cost of an hour’s flight up to 120,000 nairas, something the airlines called «unsustainable.» All this prompted them to issue a statement on Friday informing that they would suspend operations nationwide from Monday, May 9, until further notice.

Backing down

After pressure from the government, consumer protection organizations, and customers, the airlines decided to back down on the measure. However, complaints remain.

The aviation ministry said yesterday (Sunday 8) that while the airlines have been faced with unfavorable global oil market dynamics, a «lasting solution to the problem of fuel availability and affordability» is being sought.

The government has provided financial assistance to the sector since 2016, subsidizing fuel – mostly imported – to keep prices at local pumps low.

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