By Adewale Sanyaolu
The Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) has denied the story making the rounds that Ethiopian Airlines was in discussion with it to buy over Arik Air.
AMCON in a statement by its Head of Corporate Communications, Mr. Jude Nwauzor, explained that contrary to such reports, AMCON was not aware of any current discussion or negotiation with the management of Ethiopian Airlines regarding Arik.
Recall that Esayas WoldeMariam, Ethiopian Airlines’ Managing Director of International Services, had told CNN recently that the airline had made an offer and was just waiting for the response of the government. “We have outlined our terms and conditions to the Nigerian government and we are waiting to see if they will agree. We are capable and desirous of handling the airline,” he said.
WoldeMariam did not specify details of the offer Africa’s largest airline made to Nigeria but added that he expects to face competition for Arik from international airlines. Arik was placed on receivership last February, following its inability to repay debts in excess of N300 billion to AMCON and other creditors in Nigeria and around the world.
According to its Managing Director, Roy Ilegbodu, the new management has under the period stabilised the operations of the airline through adequate schedules, improved On-Time-Performance (OTP) and revamped customer services, among others. He said the airline has regained its dominance as the most reliable carrier in the country with growing passenger patronage and confidence. Ilegbodu assured general public and all stakeholders will be kept duly informed on issues relating to the airline’s divestment plan,’’ he said.
Commenting on the Arik Air bid at the World Bank/IMF meetings in April, Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance, said the government was speaking with some investors on the sale of the flagship airline.
She did not disclose the name of the investors but said, “it has held preliminary discussions with the would-be investors. They just expressed interest in buying the airlines and we told them we would look into it.
“Most of them are interested in investing in Nigeria and they just want to be sure that the timing is right.”
Some are looking at buying one of the airlines with AMCON and are just waiting to be sure that our policies are right.”
Ilegbodu had two weeks ago said the airline was now gaining stability and has retaken its place as West Africa’s largest carrier. “We can now boast of approximately 4,000 passengers daily in our various flight operations,” he had said.