Ghana's decision to reduce the price of aviation fuel has received widen condemnation from neighbouring Nigeria as the world's leading producer of oil describes the move, that has wooed some foreign airlines to relocate their offices to Ghana, as a setback to Nigerian airline business.
It has emerged that just weeks after Ghana had reduced the price of the aviation fuel by 20 percent, some international airlines, which hitherto had their operational bases in Nigeria, have started relocating their offices to Accra, from where they come to pick passengers in Nigeria.
Already, one of the major international operators in Nigeria, Emirates started last Sunday to pick up Nigerian passengers and take them to Accra, where it refuels before heading back to Dubai, its operational hub.
The Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt Nogie Meggison, who confirmed Emirates latest decision said other foreign airlines may follow suit because of the high cost of aviation fuel, which is hurting air transport business in Nigeria. He noted that some of the airlines may even begin to attract Nigerian passengers to travel to Ghana to board international flights.
Ghanaguardian.com has also gathered that some other airlines are already opening their Accra offices, while some have started both Accra and Lagos flights.
While aviation fuel is sold at $57 to $71 per litre in Nigeria, the product is sold at 31 per litre in Accra, a move that has given Ghana a very remarkable comparative cost advantage over her west African neighbour.
Capt Nogie Meggison, has raised a red flag saying that Ghana may also use the price of aviation fuel, known as Jet A1 to attract more foreign airlines operating into Nigeria to move to Accra, a development, which he said will hurt hotel and logistics supply businesses in Nigeria.
He also noted that domestic airlines would also lose connecting passengers from other destinations to Lagos and Abuja where they board international flights.
“AON condemns this new move because it will affect Nigeria adversely because Nigerian airlines operations will be curbed and it will end up shutting our economy."
"With Emirates move to Ghana Transcorp has lost 18 crew, engineers and logistics service providers,” he said.
The secretary of Aviation Round Table (ART) and former Commandant of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd) said that oil marketers have priced aviation fuel out of reality, pointing out that by selling the product from N200 per litre it is no more in consonance with the exchange rate.
Meggison said AON should be given allocation to start importing Jet A1, noting that domestic carriers need about 1.2 million litres of fuel a day.
Already the Government of Ghana is seeking an experienced airline operator as a strategic partner to establish a new national airline for the country.
Ten airlines comprising of both local and international ones have shown interest in partnering government to establish a new national airline. According to the ministry of transport.