|The price of Jet A1 fuel has caused despondency in the region with many countries either grounding their flights or declaring out of stock of the fuel at certain airports.|
From January to May, the aviation fuel price has risen from US$0.46 to about US$1.69 per liter, a nearly 370% increase in five months.
Globally, the fuel price has risen in 2022. According to the price tracker, the jet fuel price ended at US$174.4 per barrel, a 149.4% increase compared to the previous year.
No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period. While aviation fuel worldwide is said to cost about 40% of an airline’s operating cost globally, the present hike has shot up most of African airlines’ operating cost to about 95%.
Sean Mendis, an international aviation consultant, portends that the struggle with access to jet fuel at whatever price due to the removal of a big chunk of Russian production capacity from the market portends that this could lead to higher airfares in the medium term.
He tells AviationGhana that: “The reality is that fuel accounts for 30-40% of an airline’s operating costs, so with the 30-40% increase as well in the fuel cost, that means a 10-15% increase in the cost for an airline to transport each passenger. As a result, airlines have no real option in the medium to long term than to increase their prices accordingly. The issue in Africa is not just the fuel price, but the actual shortage of the physical commodity in some places even for airlines willing to pay.
“Johannesburg for example is unable to meet the demand of the airlines flying there, forcing them to divert to Durban or Windhoek or Harare to fill up their tanks all this has additional costs and those inevitably get passed on to passengers directly as increased fuel surcharges or indirectly through higher fares,” Mr. Mendis added.
Air Zimbabwe in the morning advised its valued passengers and other stakeholders of an anticipated flight schedule disruption due to Jet A1 fuel shortages at the airports.
The airline said its suppliers had advised them of constraints in the movement of the product which has cascaded along the entire value chain to the aviation firm as the final consumer of the product
“The National Airline shall endeavour to update passengers on the flight schedule changes at the earliest possible time as we continue to monitor the supply situation,” said in a statement.
Some international airlines whose suppliers still cannot guarantee enough jet fuel supplies at OR Tambo International Airport currently have to detour via Durban or even Windhoek to refuel.
Since late April, jet fuel supplies have been constrained at the airport.
No more flights in Nigeria
In a letter sent by the executive directors of nine Nigerian carriers, the association Airline Operators of Nigeria informed it will shut down its commercial operations amidst the high cost of jet A1 fuel.
The letter was signed by Max Air, Ibom Air, Aero Contractors, Overland Airways, Air Peace, United Nigeria Airlines, Arik Air, Azman Air, and Dana Air. It was sent to the Nigerian Minister of Aviation.
Over the last few months, these airlines, “with a great sense of responsibility and patriotism,” have carried on flying their weekly services and “subsidizing their services to our highly esteemed Nigerian flying public, despite the steady and astronomical hike in the price of JetA1.” – HARARE