The Managing Director of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Kuru, has called on the Federal Government to adopt Arik Air as a national carrier rather than trying to set up a new airline from scratch.
Kuru said this 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 remain in business for years to come. Kuru said having restructured and positioned the airline on the path of growth and profitability, it is time for the National Assembly to ensure that government leverages it as a stepping stone towards using 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 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 the 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.
“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 ten 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 address and I think the National Assembly has a role to play there.”
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.
Declaring that the heavy debt burden of AMCON had become a burden to the Federal Government, which is no longer unacceptable, Sani disclosed that the 9th Senate has resolved to give its support to ensure that AMCON’s primary focus of stabilising the nation’s economy is realised within a reasonable time frame.