The Managing Director of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Ahmed Kuru, has called on the Federal Government to adopt Arik Air as its national carrier rather than setting up a new airline from the scratch.
Kuru made the suggestion yesterday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions led by Senator Uba Sani and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
He urged the 9th Assembly to reform the aviation sector, saying it will enable airlines such as Arik, which AMCON took over in February 2017 to survive the nation’s harsh operating environment.
Kuru argued that having restructured and positioned the airline on the path of growth and profitability, it was high time the National Assembly ensured that government leverages on it as a stepping stone towards converting it as a national carrier.
He said rather than trying to set up a new airline from the scratch, which will cost the Federal Government a fortune, Arik can be adopted as a national carrier.
He said, “Arik has enough aircraft and facilities that can be used to set up a new airline. Even if the government wants to set up a national carrier to service just the domestic market, which currently has a lot of gaps, it is still possible with what Arik currently has. Today if you want to travel to Lagos from Abuja and you did not book your ticket two or three days earlier, the chances are that you may not get a seat, which tells us that there are serious gaps. To address this gap means that operators such as Slok Airlines and the likes may have to come back to the Nigerian air space. But for them to come back there needs to be a lot of aviation reforms, so that it will be attractive for business.
“There is something the National Assembly should do to help the aviation industry. Why is it that there is no airline in Nigeria that has successfully existed for 10 years? We have successful businessmen in Nigeria which tells you that what is happening in the aviation sector is a structural problem that needs to be addressed and I think the National Assembly has a role to play there.”
Speaking at the occasion, Senator Sani, who said the management of AMCON was invited to provide the committee with an in-depth and holistic understanding of its operations, affirmed that its operations are critical to the stabilisation of the financial sector.