By Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
A Boeing 737-700 aircraft belonging to Arik Air is currently in the process of being repainted at the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.
Daily Sun learned that the aircraft, which has been at the airline’s facilities for over two weeks may be repainted to another airline’s brand.
An Arik Air source disclosed that the aircraft may be one of those to be leased to a start-up airline, which may commence operations by the first quarter of 2022.
When asked to confirm the brand that will likely use the aircraft, Ethiopian Airline declined to comment but confirmed that as the airline with the biggest MRO in Africa, other Nigerian carriers bring their aircraft for maintenance and repairing in its facilities.
The Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) had taken over the reins at Arik Air since February 2017 and in the first quarter of 2020, one of its aircraft was painted in the colours of Nigeria Eagle(NG Eagle).
AMCON is in the last stage of acquiring an Air Operators’ certificate (AOC) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which would likely enable it to commence scheduled services by the first quarter of next year.
In a related development, unions in Arik Air issued a warning to the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Union of Pensioners ( NUP) over comments it claims is aimed at halting the AOC issuance to NG Eagle.
In a rally and press conference held on Tuesday at the Arik headquarters in Lagos, the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) and National Union of Air Transport Employées (NUATE) described ANAP and NUP as ‘interlopers’ trying to disrupt negotiations over the severance benefits of staff of Arik before the new entity comes onboard.
The General Secretary of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, said Arik workers do not need distractions especially as it is close to negotiating its severance package.
“By the time NG Eagle will be taking off, there will not be any staff of Arik Air who has not been properly severed, that is our mandate. We stated clearly that we did not say they should not be given AOCs but we said we will not let them fly until the status of Arik staff with regards to NG Eagle has been properly established. If their years of service to Arik has been compensated, they can go to NG Eagle and pick up new employment.”
He also clarified that since AMCON took over, that it is not indebted to anyone but the debt question is a legacy debt.