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Operator cautions on vigilance to avoid fuel contamination

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The Chief Operating Officer, COO, United Nigeria, Mazi Osita Okonkwo, has advised operators to be more vigilant concerning fuelers and fuelling to avoid fuel contamination issues in the industry.

He is of the belief that, with the swift action taken by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA on fuel contamination, it would not happen again.

In a chat with Aviation correspondents in Lagos at the sidelinesl of the Annual Conference of the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents, LAAC, with the theme: Aviation Industry: ‘Changing Times, Changing Strategies’, Mazi Okonkwo said, all pre-flight operations or activities must be done by operators, also by fuelers to avoid a repeat of the contamination discovered in Max air.

“They can’t assume that once the bowser comes up in the morning that everything is fine, you must do these things. And before the fuel enters your plane, you have to do the normal basic checks.  These are standard operating procedures”.

According to him, the problems may have been from the bowser or the point of loading or offloading, adding that, 

“I think it’s a one-off thing, it’s not a universal or sector thing. So, we shouldn’t overblow it. It’s an incident that happened, it could have come from the operator or from the marketing, the oil marketing. It’s something that is a one-off and we’ve never experienced it in the two years of operations. So, I can’t really say how or why it happened”.

He added, “The NCAA, the operators, the fuelers and the NNPC are all working on that and I don’t think we’ll ever see it again. What it simply means is that we should all be vigilant and all the pre-flight operations or activities must be done by operators, also by fuelers”. 

On the increase in the cost of fuel, the COO United Nigeria noted that, once there is inflation, costs rises at all levels, operationally, administratively amongst others but the unfortunate thing in Nigeria is that, there are spikes in costs rather than the normal gradual inflationary related costs. 

“We wait until after a long time and then we have an adjustment which becomes very difficult to manage. But we are reacting to it. Obviously, there are some we will absorb directly. There are some we will pass to passengers by adjusting the fares. But, it’s not going to be immediate because we know that the gradual increase is not what people can easily absorb”. 

On access to forex, Mazi Okonkwo said, the access is becoming better with the Investors and Exporter, I&E window but there must be availability of the naira.

“In terms of access, I think it’s becoming better and better. The cost is very volatile. But in terms of access, yes, if you want and you can pay, I think you will have access to that. But you have to have the Naira. And Naira is a scarce commodity now”.

On the I&E widows, “These are still early days and the policies and the practices and processes are evolving. But what it has done is that it has promised a level playing field for everybody. That’s one. There is transparency so you can build in your costs transparently and everybody will see that”.

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