Forex Scarcity Shrinks Domestic Airlines’ Fleet By Over 50%

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The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) have raised concerns about the industry’s existential threat, attributing it to difficulties in accessing foreign exchange for maintenance and other dollar-based activities. Handling companies, airports, and aircraft service providers have also increased their charges, exacerbating the financial strain on airlines.

In response to the challenges, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has directed airlines to adjust their schedules to match the available capacity to minimize flight disruptions and passenger inconvenience.

CEO of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, highlighted the impact of the forex issue on airlines’ plans to bring back aircraft from maintenance abroad, noting the increased cost in naira for repatriating these aircraft.

Recent findings indicate a significant decline in the active fleet of domestic airlines, leaving many struggling to cope.

Out of an initial fleet of over 100 aircraft, fewer than 50 are currently operational, with many grounded or undergoing maintenance abroad.A shortage of foreign exchange has compounded the situation, hindering airlines from carrying out scheduled maintenance overseas.

Those who managed to send their aircraft abroad for maintenance are facing substantial demurrage costs in addition to the already high maintenance expenses.

The forex scarcity, coupled with the devaluation of the naira, has made it challenging for airlines to afford scheduled maintenance, resulting in a growing number of grounded aircraft.

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At the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA) domestic terminals in Lagos, numerous aircraft sit idle due to maintenance requirements.

The cost of comprehensive checks on aircraft, such as the C-check and D-check, has soared due to forex shortages and currency depreciation, further straining airlines’ finances.

This situation has disrupted flight schedules, leading to frequent flight cancellations and inconveniences for passengers.

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About the Author: Olusola Sorinmade

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