N4trn bill: How petrol subsidy grew by 349.42% in 3 years - AfrobadooTV
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N4trn bill: How petrol subsidy grew by 349.42% in 3 years

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Petrol subsidy payments grew by 349.42 per cent from N350 billion in 2019 to N1.573 trillion in 2021, propelled by the rising price of crude oil in the international market and the falling value of the Naira.

 

The cost of subsidizing the product in 2020 was N450 billion. In 2022 alone, the total cost of subsidy in January and February was N396.72 billion, the latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has shown.

Federal legislators approved the sum of N4 trillion to be spent on petrol subsidies in 2022.

The Federal Government had previously disclosed through the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that it spent N10.413 trillion on fuel subsidies between 2006 and 2019.

With Nigeria importing all its petrol from refineries abroad, the low value of the Naira has had a significant impact on the pricing of the product in-country.

None of the three government-owned refineries is currently operational, despite huge investments in their Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) by the government.

The current administration has failed on its promise to make the refineries operational within a short period of assuming office.

Deregulation on hold

A plan by the government to deregulate the sector, following enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act (2021) that prescribes a free market for the downstream sector of the petroleum industry has been abandoned, with the government seeking and obtaining budgetary approval to spend N4 trillion on petrol subsidy.

The annual expenditures on petrol subsidy under the current administration contrast very sharply when compared with fuel subsidy under the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, which was accused of fuel subsidy fraud.

According to data published by the defunct Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, the Federal Government paid a total of N2,105.92 trillion in 2011, an increase of N1,437.84 trillion from the 2010 payment.

It also noted that in 2012, N1.35 trillion was paid as a subsidy, the highest within the period under review.

“A total of N 1, 316 trillion in 2013, N1,217 trillion in 2014 and N653.51 billion in 2015 was paid as subsidy claims,” it added.

It noted that the NNPC since 2016, had been the sole importer of the product to the country.

Determined to curb fiscal leakages associated with the fuel subsidy regime, President Jonathan had announced deregulation of the downstream sub-sector, with a view to eliminating fuel subsidy.

However, incumbent President Mohammadu Buhari, and other opposition party leaders, under the Save Nigeria Group, organised nationwide protests to stop Jonathan from going ahead with the decision.

Other notable Nigerians that led the mass protest included Pastor Tunde Bakare, who was Buhari’s running mate in Congress of Progressive Change (CPC) and Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State.

The protests forced Jonathan to rescind the policy. When Buhari took over power in 2015, his government initially refused to pay fuel importers for products imported into the country.

It took a fuel crisis, characterised by long queues, to force the government to pay the debts, as the marketers insisted that they would not import more products unless their earlier bills were settled.

The Buhari administration was to later come to terms with the realities of the rot in the industry.

President Buhari made himself Minister of Petroleum and by so doing, has directly managed the petroleum industry. However, he has failed to make any policy changes.

‘Global price of crude determines petrol price here’

Speaking in a telephone interview from Ibadan, Director, Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law, University of Ibadan, Professor Adeola Adenikinju said the price of petrol is determined by the international price of crude and cost of foreign exchange.

Adenikinju noted that the government’s decision to continue subsidy payment was more political than economic, given the revenue challenges facing governments at all levels.

He pointed out that by retaining the petrol subsidy, the government would find it difficult to meet other commitments.

According to him, “It is a political decision, not an economic one. Economically, we know that subsidies have been very costly to the country and this is going to have serious implications on government revenue, particularly the state governments.

“The states are going to feel it more because they depend heavily on revenue from the Federation Account and secondly, they do not have the leverage to borrow like the Federal Government.

“If it goes ahead, the states are going to be hard-hit financially and it is going to be extremely difficult for them to meet all their commitments in terms of payment of salaries and keeping their obligations to pensioners”.

He noted that he would not be surprised later in the year if the states and local governments are unable to meet their commitments.

The university teacher also pointed out that the decision went beyond just revenue but would also have implications for the oil industry.

“It is also at the heart of the deregulation of the downstream sector. It will have implications for the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 significantly because the decision on pricing is about market forces being at play to allow investment decisions to be made.

“This is going to hinder investment, so we can say that until the issue is resolved there is not going to be much private investment flow to the downstream sector.”

He blamed the middle class and the elite, who he said are the main beneficiaries of the petrol subsidy regime for mounting pressure on the government to retain the policy.

“Once you touch the middle class, the elite, they react. The argument is about the protection of the privileges of the middle class to which the labour unions belong. This is because kerosene was deregulated, nothing happened, diesel was deregulated, nothing also happened but once you touch something that affects the middle class, it becomes difficult to implement because they have access to the media”, he added.

‘Loss of confidence in govt by citizens’

He also blamed the resistance to the policy on citizens’ loss of confidence in the government, pointing out that over time Nigerians no longer trusted the government.

Adenikinju urged the government to intensify negotiations with organized labour, noting that ending the costly subsidy regime is critical to the financial state of governments at all levels.

On his part, Independent Oil and Gas Governance Consultant, Mr Henry Adigun, in an earlier interview with Vanguard, argued that it is impossible for Nigerians to expect to continue to pay the same rate for petrol while it was rising in other countries due to crude oil price in the international market.

Adigun noted that while the reluctance of the government to have petrol subsidies removed is understandable, Nigerians must know that the payment would have to come from somewhere.

According to him, “the challenge about PIA is not about the quality of the law but implementation, and so far the government has been very inconsistent in the implementation and they have not really allowed it to work.

“I understand that you cannot have subsidy removal now because the hardship on Nigerians would be immense. We have a situation whereby inflation is about 17 per cent and food prices have soared. Any attempt to increase petrol price will mean that a litre of petrol will probably sell at N270-N285.

“That would have a knock-on effect on inflation, food basket and on many other things, and at the point, we are in now, we cannot afford that as it might lead to social unrest. Our people are very angry because there is poverty in the land”.

How subsidy rose sharply, by MOMAN scribe

Speaking to Vanguard in a telephone interview, the Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr Clement Isong, explained that three factors were responsible for the astronomical rise in petrol subsidy.

Isong listed a rise in the international price of crude oil, foreign exchange rate and high rate of petrol smuggling across Nigeria’s borders.

He said: “The first is the international cost of crude oil and the derivative products like Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) has gone up significantly as a result of the Russian war in Ukraine. So the price of crude itself, and the price of petrol, diesel and all products that come from petroleum have gone higher than they normally would be because of the war and the sanctions imposed on Russia, which is a major exporter of crude.

“Secondly, the rate of foreign exchange is exceedingly high right now. That is to say, the exchange rate for the Naira is at its highest level. I’m not talking of the black market which is even higher, I’m talking about the Central Bank of Nigeria rate which is N411-N414 to the dollar. It is higher than it has ever been historically.

“Finally, and this is the most important reason because you have capped the price, at one third or one quarter, of the price that it is across the borders, the propensity for the product to move across the borders is at the highest.

“What I mean by that is that so many people, ordinary Nigerians, ordinary human beings on both sides of the border engage in moving the product from the Nigerian side to the other side. Whether we are talking about Cameroun, Chad, Republic of Benin, Niger or Equatorial Guinea, this product goes to the whole Central and West African regions.

“This is because it is a simple law of economics that the product will follow where the price is highest. The product will go there by itself. Now because there is so much product going out, and the government doesn’t want queues in Nigeria, the government has increased the amount of product that it is importing for the Nigerian people”, he added.

He explained that the combination of these factors has brought Nigeria to where it is at the moment.

Isong explained that ordinarily, the volume being imported into the country ought to be lower, but the activities of smugglers have shot up the volume.

“For all, you know, maybe our consumption in Nigeria is normally 30, 35, maybe 40 million litres per day, in the last couple of years it has been between 60 and 65 million litres per day which were already too high because of the price cap but now that the differential between the price in Nigeria and in neighbouring countries is even higher, the volume that will go outside Nigeria will be higher.

“So, this year, we are averaging between 70 and 80 million litres per day. That volume is not consumed in Nigeria. The solution is simply for Nigerians to put up their hands and say to the government, we no longer want subsidies. The subsidy is killing our country, subsidy is killing us”.

The MOMAN scribe noted that while he understood the argument behind the government’s decision, removing subsidies is in the best interest of the country.

“The position of the industry as a whole is this: the industry is against the subsidy. We have always been against it, we will always be against it. We are against the concept of price regulations which is what brings the subsidy”, he stated.

Subsidy widens FG’s deficit

The Federal Government said that the fuel subsidy was widening its deficit gap so much that it was considering tapping the 2 billion Euros it raised in the Eurobond sale last year to support its fiscal position.

Reuters reported the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, as disclosing this at the Arab-African Conference in Cairo, Egypt.

She said that the administration will target more local borrowing this year to help fund the budget deficit which has been exacerbated by rising oil prices, due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Mrs Ahmed was quoted as saying, “Rising oil prices have put us in a very precarious position … because we import refined products … and it means that our subsidy cost is really increasing.” The Federal Government had, in September last year, raised 4 billion Euros from the international capital market.

Although the President Muhammadu Buhari administration had announced plans to end fuel subsidies in June, it later reversed itself following a public outcry against the decision.

It then extended the subsidy by 18 months to avert any protests in the run-up to presidential elections next year, as part of its external borrowing plan.

Rather than being an advantage to Nigeria as a major oil producer, the high crude oil prices have become a burden for the country as the fuel consumed locally is imported.

The Buhari administration has failed in its promise to make the four refineries owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited become operational, despite huge investments in their Turnaround Maintenance.

The NNPC has given the excuse of high under-recovery as the reason why it has not been remitting oil revenue to the Federation Account, from where the three tiers of government share federation revenue on a monthly basis.

Even the Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, recently aired its concern over NNPC’s non-remittance of oil proceeds at a time when oil prices have risen very high to the advantage of other oil-producing nations of the world.

The exact volume of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popularly known as petrol consumed in the country remains a subject of contention. The state governors had rejected the NNPC’s claim of 75 million litres of daily consumption.

The Minister of Finance had announced that a committee was working to reconcile the financial position of the NNPC, in respect of the under-recoveries, and the remittance into the federation coffers. The reconciliations have yet to be made public.

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Elon Musk sells $7bn worth of Tesla shares

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Elon Musk has sold nearly $7 billion worth of Tesla shares, according to legal filings published on Tuesday, amid a high-stakes legal battle with Twitter over a $44 billion buyout deal.

The Tesla boss sold some 7.9 million shares between August 5 and 9, according to filings published on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website.

“In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close and some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock,” Musk, the world’s richest man wrote on Twitter late Tuesday.

Twitter is locked in a legal battle with the mercurial Tesla boss over his effort to walk away from the April agreement to buy the company, and a judge has ordered that a trial will begin in October.

Musk has filed a countersuit, accusing Twitter of fraud and alleging the social media platform misled him about key aspects of its business before he agreed to a $44 billion buyout.

The move comes after Musk sold around $8.5 billion worth of shares in the electric carmaker in April as he was preparing to finance the Twitter deal. He tweeted at the time: “No further TSLA sales planned after today.”

AFP

 

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Crispy Juice introduces Super Combo package

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Crispy juice has extended their tentacles in the quest of satisfying their esteemed customers.

This package titled super combo comes with sandwich and juice and it’s sold for just N1,000.

According to them, this super combo is packaged to give unbeatable nutritious greatness.

This idea was borne out of consistent requests from their esteemed customers.

Interestingly, this package can be delivered everywhere in Lagos ranging from the island to the mainland.

Contact: IG: @crispy_juice1

Phone: 08121332085

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JET A1 crisis: Operators fear industry collapse, job losses

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…One hour flight ticket hits N150,000

The persistent rise in the cost of aviation fuel, known as jet A1, is beginning to cause apprehension in the minds of stakeholders in the industry as they express fears that the sector may collapse and there may be huge job losses if the rising cost is left unchecked.

As of Friday, reports indicated that Jet A1 fuel had risen from about N300 per litre in February to about N1,000 per litre, causing a significant increase in the cost of tickets.

Aviation Round Table, which is a body of professionals in the sector, said more airlines might be forced to halt operations, in addition to the two domestic airlines not in operation at the moment. Aero Contractors had on July 18 announced the suspension of its operations, citing the impact of the challenging operating environment on its daily operations, while the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority on July 20 suspended the operations of Dana Air.

 

In an interview with one of our correspondents, a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency and Chief Executive Officer, TopBrass Aviation Company Limited, Capt. Roland Iyayi, said government must work towards reviving the refineries for the local production of JetA1. He added that government should consider supporting airlines in aviation fuel pricing in the short term.

He pointed out that many people were no longer travelling by air due to the hike in the price of tickets. This, he said, posed great danger to the survival of airlines and the aviation industry.

Iyayi added, “The key to the success of any airline is affordability. If fares are unaffordable, what you will end up having will be empty flights. Now, when you have empty flights, it will become a double whammy. At this point, how do you manage the sustainability of the airline?

“So, ultimately what we will have will be more airline failures. And if more airlines fail, it means that capacity will reduce and when this happens you will get very high fares. That is essentially what we are looking at now and it is a very precarious situation for the industry.

“This means there is imminent danger in the entire industry and it is bound to spiral out of control if something is not done urgently. So if the government considers aviation as a critical asset, I would expect it to intervene in JetA1 pricing.”

Also, the Assistant General Secretary of the Aviation Round Table, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, noted that the sector had been severely hit by the fuel crisis due to its dependence on importation and the high foreign exchange rate.

In an interview with Sunday PUNCH, he added, “The Russia-Ukraine war has increased the average cost of fuel and all forms of gas productions, and this is exacerbated for Nigeria because of the weakening naira to the dollar. That has increased the pain on the airline and even the supplier. What we have is that one airline is grounded voluntarily and the other involuntarily.

“If things do not return to normal, other airlines may also be grounded. That is where we are going. It is funny that the government is telling us now, through the senate committee, that some of the aviation fuel is being exported to neighbouring countries and sold there.

“Though it is deregulated and the government does not subsidise it, why would they not be able to monitor the distribution that they have to move to neighbouring countries? Something is wrong. We need to tighten control on it.”

He urged the government to look at the port charges and taxes on aviation fuel and see if it could be suspended temporarily, pending when the price returns to normalcy. He added that it was risky to continue waiting for Dangote Refinery to start operations, noting that there must be a way to address the problem without delay.”

Ticket hits N150,000

Meanwhile, the cost of an economic ticket for an hour flight on domestic routes has increased by about 400 per cent in less than five months. It rose from about N30,000 in February 2022 to about N150,000 as of Saturday. This has been tied to the high cost of aviation fuel.

Although the latest cost varied among various airlines, findings showed that the few surviving domestic carriers had raised the price of air tickets to match the rise in the cost of aviation fuel.

As of 9am on Saturday, it was observed that the airfare for 12.45pm flight to Lagos from Abuja on Nigeria’s largest commercial airline, Air Peace, was put at N150,000, while that of 5.35pm went for N100,000.

For MaxAir, the 7.20am Sunday flight ticket from Kano to Lagos went for N130,000, while Lagos bound flight tickets from Abuja on Saturday were sold at N90,000.

The rates, however, differed on some other routes, as Ibom Air’s 6pm flight ticket on Saturday from Abuja to Uyo, for instance, went for N86,000.

Airline operators justified the jump in airfares, attributing it to the hike in aviation fuel, which accounted for about 60 per cent of the cost of operations of an aircraft.

This, according to them, had also caused lamentations among air travellers and led to a drop in the passenger volume lately, as they expressed fears of more airlines’ failures and a possible collapse of the industry if nothing was done urgently to salvage the situation.

Iyayi analysed how a commercial aircraft consumes fuel and what operators spend on fueling their airplanes for an hour flight.

He told one of our correspondents that most carriers in Nigeria were currently struggling to survive.

He said, “It is possible for aviation fuel to cause a jump in the cost of air tickets and the reason is very simple. Fuel as a component of operation is about 40 to 60 per cent of the cost of operating an aircraft. So when you take a flight that will last an hour, for instance, a Boeing 737, the fuel it burns is about 2.5 tonnes an hour.

“If you translate that into litres, you’re talking of 104,000 litres. At the current rate of fuel being N1,000/litre, what that essentially means is that an airline must sell tickets to cover the cost of fuel, which will be approximately N4.5m for that particular flight.

“So at N4.5m, if you are selling at N100,000 you will need to sell 45 seats to even cover that cost alone. That is not talking about the maintenance reserves, crew cost, insurance and all other factors that you need to consider for your cost of operations to be covered. Therefore, if you look at it from the perspective of just fuel, what you have are airlines struggling to even cover their cost. There is no margin left.”

He said if the charges to be paid to the various agencies and regulators were added, the fate of the airlines could best be imagined.

He added, “You need to also know that five per cent of whatever revenue they make goes to the NCAA. Essentially, we are saying that even before an airline starts operations, it is already struggling. Hence, airlines cannot continue to sustain losses for all the other agencies and service providers to thrive in the industry. This has been the situation in the last decades.

“The truth is that airlines are operating in the most difficult and hostile environment in the Nigerian landscape.”

Also commenting on the situation, another major operator in the domestic air transport business berated the Central Bank of Nigeria for failing in stabilising the naira against the dollar.

“If you were buying fuel at N200/litre and all of a sudden you start buying it at N900 to N1000/litre due to the crash in your local currency, will you be happy with your Central Bank?” the operator, who spoke anonymously due to the sensitive nature of the matter, asked.

The airline operator added, “If the system gets better, then the cost of tickets would drop. But for now, that’s what you get if you must fly a safe aircraft. The CBN, the Federal Government and the Petroleum Resources Ministry must answer questions and tell us how they want to help address this concern.”

The umbrella organisation for the country’s domestic carriers, Airline Operators of Nigeria, had attributed the crisis in the sector to the high cost of JetA1 and the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange required for the business.

Another aviation expert and President, Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, Kingsley Nwokeoma, said there were fears that another domestic carrier might suspend operations soon.

He added, “Of course, we saw Aero’s coming and it happened. We also saw what happened to Dana. The question is who’s next? Apparently, when we have issues and everybody is trying to work around staying afloat, there is the tendency that safety might be compromised.

“From last year to this year, we have been having this price increase in airfares, moving from N30,000-plus to over N50,000 and now about N100,000. Now who is going to fly?

“The flying public will have to look for alternatives. So the government needs to sit down with the carriers if we are to still have a domestic aviation sector, because the average man can’t afford these tickets. That’s the truth.”

He, however, stated that the price hike in air tickets was justifiable, as the major component in the air transportation business had also skyrocketed in cost.

The AFARN president added, “Aviation fuel is the major component. So, if you don’t have fuel, you can’t fly. The fuel price is going astronomically high and that means it will reflect on the tickets. So it’s a serious situation that we have here, just like Allen Onyema (Chairman, Air Peace) said during the Nigeria Aviation Conference.”

Nwokeoma added, “He (Onyema) said it might get to a point where we would not even have carriers flying, because if you are spending all your money on buying fuel, then what of the other components like maintenance, payment of salaries, training, etc.

“So it’s the situation that we have here and it might degenerate if the government does not sit down with these carriers and find the solution on how to manage this crisis, for we are not close to a crisis. We are in crisis already.”

Nwokeoma observed that though the government had been meeting with airlines on some of those issues, such meetings had yet to yield the desired results.

However, amid these challenges, the NCAA promised to ensure that the air transportation business remained safe.

“It is our core mandate to ensure that the aviation sector is safe and that is what we’ve been doing and will continue to do,” the spokesperson for the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, told one of our correspondents.

A senior official at the Federal Ministry of Aviation stated that the aviation minister had made it clear that there was no immediate solution to the crisis in the sector though efforts were being made to address the challenges.

Passengers groan

Meanwhile, air passengers have been lamenting over the disruption to flight schedules in the last few days on account of the crisis in the sector. Visits by our correspondents to the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos and that of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, observed huge crowds in the terminals, with many lamenting the postponement or outright cancellation of their flights.

Job loss looms

There are fears that the suspension of operations by Aero and Dana and the growing uncertainty in the sector may put about 8,000 jobs on the line. Some aviation analysts told Sunday PUNCH that it would be almost impossible for an airline that was no longer working to continue to pay salaries and retain its staff strength. Indications have therefore emerged that the troubled domestic airline industry may succumb to job losses.

This came amid an ongoing investigation of the financial health of some local carriers believed to be in crisis by the NCAA.

Findings show that unless the crisis abates, over 8,000 domestic airline jobs may be on the line.

According to industry analysts, a significant number of jobs may be lost in the event that one, two or three carriers go under.

Findings show that Aero currently has 730 employees, while Dana has over 820. Air Peace has over 3,500 workers while Arik Air has over 1,100 employees. The number of workers engaged by Max Air, Overland Airways, Azman Airlines and Ibom Air and Green Africa Airways has been put at over 3,000.

A former Managing Director, Associated Airlines, Alex Nwuba, said, “The crisis currently affecting the domestic airline industry may lead to the industry’s collapse if the government fails to tackle the issues.

“Also, some airline jobs may be lost if some of the carriers fail to survive this crisis. This is a major problem in our hands. The foreign exchange scarcity, JetA1 exorbitant prices, high taxes, among others are issues that may make the industry collapse or the sector succumb to major job losses.”

Nwuba, who is the President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Nigeria, explained that the skyrocketing price of aviation fuel had negatively impacted on the costs of other components in the airline business.

He said, “Clearly, the costs in this business have completely gone out of control. Therefore what is an airline going to do? It has two choices: first, the airline is going to increase its revenues by increasing its charges to cover those costs or to ask themselves, can we continue in business because we are simply heading down the hill, which is what Aero has done.

“The second case is, while still contemplating that decision and already in a slide, the government says to a particular airline that ‘we do not think you can continue given these factors, so we will suspend your operation,’ as in the case of Dana Air.

“So, if the airlines go out of business or reduce their operations, they would have to also start to manage their costs and one of the ways in which they manage cost is to say we will lay off staff because that is one component of cost.

“This also has an adverse effect on the economy. If productivity is down, it is not just the airline that suffers, the GDP and all of the elements that make for economic growth are diminished. One person’s job loss is not that individual’s job loss. It is a loss to the family and the environment. Basically, the effect is not on the airlines but on the entire economy in view of the fact that we already have unemployment in very high numbers.”

Operators stated that currently in the domestic aviation space, the functional airlines were now few, including Air Peace, Ibom Air, Azman, Green Africa Airlines, Arik Air, Max Air, among others.

Emirates slashes flights to Nigeria over withheld $85m

Meanwhile, Emirates Airlines has said it will reduce its flights to Nigeria from August 15, due to its failure to repatriate the $85m it generated from the sale of ticket sales in the country.

The airline said it would be forced to reduce weekly flights from Dubai to Lagos from 11 to seven. It said it was constrained to take the action.

These were contained in its July 22 letter to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, and signed by Sheik Majid Al Mualla, the DSVP International Affairs.

The letter explained that as of July 2022, Emirates had $85m of funds awaiting repatriation due to non-availability of dollars in Nigeria and that the figure had been rising by more than $10m every month, as the ongoing operational costs of the airline’s 11 weekly flights to Lagos and five to Abuja continue to accumulate.

“We simply cannot continue to operate at the current level in the face of mounting losses, especially in the challenging post COVID-19 climate. Emirates did try to stem the losses by proposing to pay for fuel in Nigeria in naira, which would have at least reduced one element of our on-going costs, however this request was denied by the supplier. This means that not only are Emirates’ revenues accumulating, we also have to send hard currency into Nigeria to sustain our own operations. Meanwhile, our revenues are out of reach and not even earning credit interest,” the letter added.

The mega carrier said the funds were urgently needed to meet its operational costs and maintain the commercial viability of its services to Nigeria.

PUNCH

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