LAGOS Nov 17 Nigeria's largest airline, Arik
Air, has reduced the number of domestic flights it offers due to
a scarcity of aviation fuel, its spokesman said on Thursday, the
latest carrier to limit services due to a currency squeeze in
A sharp fall in the naira this year has made it difficult to
get the U.S. dollars needed to buy jet fuel, almost all of which
is imported, creating periodic shortages throughout the country.
Nigerian airlines have struggled to remain profitable amid
the currency crisis, as passengers pay in naira but fuel
suppliers are paid in dollars, and some international carriers
have cut or stopped flights to Nigeria because those services
are not profitable.
Arik Air spokesman Ola Adebanji said major oil marketers
began to ration jet fuel supply to airlines last week, and as a
result there had been a "reduction of flights" with immediate
effect. He did not say how many flights would be cut.
"This will last until the supply situation improves," he
Arik Air is west Africa's biggest carrier by passenger
numbers, flying to London, New York and Johannesburg, and also
has a maintenance contract with Germany's Lufthansa.
"We are managing the situation to ensure our international
flights are not affected," Adebanji said.
Fuel shortages earlier this year forced domestic airlines to
ground some flights, while foreign airlines flying to Nigeria
started to refuel abroad because the hard currency shortage
meant fuel was only available at a very high price.
(Additional reporting by Anamesere Igboeroteonwu; Editing by