From: Louis Ibah.
The Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) has announced the takeover of the management of Arik Air. AMCON in a press statement on Thursday sacked the management of Arik Air and replaced them with new ones. Arik Air owes AMCON N135b and has been struggling to service the debt. “The airline would now be managed by Captain Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu, a veteran aviation expert under the receivership of Mr. Oluseye Opasanya, SAN,” the AMCON statement said. “We believe that this appointment is timely and will stabilise the operations of the airline,” said Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, in his reaction. “This will enhance the long term economic value of Arik Air and revitalize the airline’s ailing operations as well as sustain safety standards, in view of Arik Air’s pivotal role in the Nigerian aviation sector,” Sirika added. The Minister who further pledged that the Ministry of Aviation would support the new management of the carrier added that all necessary steps have been taken to ensure that there would be no undue disruption on Arik’s regular business operations or activities of other stakeholders, on account of the recent changes in the leadership and management of Arik Airline. In the same vein, Capt. Ilegbodu, has also assured both staff of the troubled airline and all other stakeholders that his appointment at Arik would among other objectives enhance the value of the airline, improve customer experience, and sustain the safety, reliable and secure its operational history before all those were eroded.
As a matter of fact, Arik Airline has been in a precarious situation largely attributable to its heavy financial debt burden, bad corporate governance, erratic operational challenges and other issues, that required immediate intervention in order to guarantee the continued survival of the Airline. Yesterday, Arik temporarily suspended its flight operations to the John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, United States, claiming that the two Airbus A330-200 aircraft dedicated to the route have been taken to France for C check at the same time. Equally more than eight aircrafts are currently grounded at the tarmac making it difficult to meet their routine commercial flights.
The myriad of issues confronting Arik Air of late ranges from confiscation of aircrafts due to non-payment of leases, frequent flight delays, constant fracas between Arik Staff and irate passengers at both local and international airports etc. During the last yuletide season, passengers were stranded in airports all over the country due to Arik’s incessant flight delays and cancellations, which negatively affected the preference they enjoy from passengers. You are all living examples of this.
The airline is so overwhelmed to the extent that the worker’s wages are not paid for several months, leading to occasional confrontation between the management of Arik and different Aviation Unions in the country. It was Arik’s inability to pay its workers for seven months that forced the United Labour Congress (ULC) and Engineers Union to recently shut the offices of the Airline across the country causing untold hardship to thousands of travelers and an embarrassment to the aviation sector in the country. Besides owing workers’ salaries, the Airline has also not been remitting the taxes of workers to relevant bodies thus also defrauding the country. The Airline is also in perpetual default in its lease payments and insurance premium, leading to regular and embarrassing repossession of its aircrafts by Lessors. Various class actions are pending against the airline all over the world.