Ethiopian Airlines, a leading African carrier, owned 100 per cent by the Ethiopian government, says it has made a bid to the Federal Government to take over embattled Arik Air, Nigeria’s biggest airline.
Arik Air, which was taken over the Federal Government through the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) last February due to its huge debt profile estimated at over N300 billion is currently being managed by Captain Roy Ilegbodu appointed by the government after dissolving its management team, and appointing a receiver-manager.
“The airline will now be managed by Capt. Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu, under the receivership of Mr. Oluseye Opasanya, SAN,” the government said in February.
Giving hints 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 discussion 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.”
Esayas WoldeMariam, Ethiopian’s Managing Director of International Services, 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 agree. We are capable and desirous of handling the airline,” he said.
WoldeMariam did not specify details of the offer but added that he expects to face competition for Arik from international airlines. Calls placed through to the spokespersons of Arik and AMCON were not answered nor returned.
Recall that had Ilegbodu two weeks ago said that the airline was now gaining stability and has retaken its place as Western Africa’s largest carrier.
“We can now boast of approximately 4,000 passengers daily in our various flight operations,” he had said.
Ilegbodu also said the airline is currently operating about 14 aircraft in its fleet out of 28 it had before its debt crisis.