Business Aircraft Ops to Nigeria: Recent Fueling Issues & Considerations
Due to a number of factors – including economic turmoil, civil unrest and strikes – issues with aviation fuel availability, credit and pricing in Nigeria have escalated over recent months. Fuel availability/pricing has become more unpredictable than usual in this region. For any planned fuel uplifts in Nigeria it’s recommended that operators take additional steps to ensure fuel and volume availability, along with acceptable credit options. It’s also best to have Plan B contingency arrangements ready when operating to this region.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Fuel shortages
Recent fuel outages and shortages have been affecting all airports in Nigeria, including the three primary general aviation (GA) destinations–Lagos (DNMM), Abuja (DNAA) and Kano (DNKN) –and these fuel availability issues have become much more challenging lately. Many domestic airline flights are being cancelled due to fuel shortages, and GA operators have been facing restricted volume uplifts.
2. Fuel pricing and credit
Fuel pricing in Nigeria has been changing on an almost daily basis. Due to shortages, fuel pricing has become unstable, with a trend toward higher pricing. Note that few aviation and fuel cards are accepted. Visa seems to be the only consumer credit card still accepted for some fuel uplifts. You may pay in cash using USD denominations, but this will normally only be possible with the latest version bills. While we don’t recommend paying for fuel with cash, this may be the only option in certain cases. Best practice is to turn over cash only to your handling agent who, in turn, will pay the fueler. Your handler should not charge a fee for this service as it’s covered as part of the general ground handling fee.
3. Airport, service fees and credit
It’s important that your handler is aware of all required services two to three days prior to the estimated time of arrival (ETA). In most cases handling and airport fees can be billed to your 3rd-party provider, so credit availability, and the need to carry cash, will not be the same issue as is with fuel uplifts.
4. Fuel quality
Fuel issues encountered in Nigeria have to do with quantity and not quality. We’ve had no indication of less than standard quality aviation fuel being delivered at any airport in Nigeria.
5. Confirming fuel uplifts
Fuel uplifts should be requested as soon as schedule is known and at least 48-72 hours prior to ETA/ estimated time of departure (ETD). It’s important to advise your volume requirements as it may take more than one hour for a truck to reload at fuel farm if it runs low. Ensure that your ground handler has your most current schedule and that the fueler’s head office, as well as the local airport office, has your uplift request.
6. Fuel releases
When operating to Nigeria it’s important to ensure that the request gets to the head office of the fueling company during their business hours, not just to the airport fueler office. Your fuel release will be confirmed for a particular time window, typically up to 7 days deviation. However, this may or may not guarantee the price you’ll be paying.
7. Contingency plans
Have cash onboard as a backup just in case you run into local credit issues or the credit card machine is out of order. Consider fueling on arrival, rather than risking issues on departure. We recommend that operators tanker in sufficient fuel to get to another, more reliable, fuel uplift location.
8. Permits for Nigeria
While overflight permits for Nigeria can often be obtained within 24 hours, plan on up to four business days lead time for landing permit confirmations. Note that landing permits are needed for any stop in Nigeria, including quick turn tech stops.
9. Alternate tech stops
Nigeria’s fuel shortage and credit issues do not seem to extend to neighboring countries. If you’re planning a tech stop in this region consider Abidjan (DIAP), Libreville (FOOL), Luanda (FNLU) or Accra (DGAA) rather than a Nigerian airport. For example, DGAA is a 24-hour airport of entry (AOE) with reliable fuel availability, stable pricing and around the clock customs, immigration, and quarantine (CIQ) and ground handling availability.
For uplifts at DGAA advance notification should always be provided. While major aviation, fuel and consumer credit cards are accepted at Ghana, it’s best to carry a fuel release as backup. We’ve seen tech stop business pick up considerably at DGAA, as a result of the unstable conditions in Nigeria. However, be mindful that tech stops in Ghana require permits, and recommended lead time is three business days.
10. Security considerations
Major airports in Nigeria are secure, and there are no threats indicated in terms of tech stops. However, if you’re stopping overnight for crew rest you’ll need to consider any required visas, the CIQ process, and secure ground transport arrangements to your hotel. For overnight stops we recommend obtaining security briefs and arranging aircraft security guards. It’s best to allow four to five days lead time to clear all permits and set up aircraft security for DNMM or DNAA. International brand hotels are located close to DNMM and DNAA, and secure transport can be arranged between airports and hotels. The good news is that airside security at major airports is adequate, and you’ll not likely find that your fuel on arrival has been siphoned out during the night.
Fuel availability, pricing and credit issues in Nigeria are not new and have been ongoing over the past year. The situation is getting worse, and problems that operators have been encountering have become more consistent over recent months. For fuel uplifts in Nigeria best practice is to ensure your fuel release is on file with the fuel company’s head office and that you carry cash as a backup, tanker in sufficient fuel to get out and have fuel uplift contingency plans in place.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Nigeria, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.