It will cost the Federal Government more than N10 billion to rejuvenate the Arik Air. According to Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCON), which took over the airline last week, only nine out of 30 aircrafts in Arik Air’s fleet are operational. It said the remaining 21 aircraft had either been grounded or gone for C-check in Europe, among other challenges.
The new management of Arik Air, which is headed by the Chief Executive Officer, Capt. Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu, under the receivership of Mr. Oluseye Opasanya, SAN, in a statement on February 12, said that AMCON has discovered deep rooted rot at Arik Airlines, which would require over N10 billion to fix before the largest local carrier would resume full and uninterrupted flight operations to its regular routes across the country and beyond.
“The situation is so bad that only nine aircraft out of the 30 in the fleet of the airline is operational. 21 of them have either been grounded, gone for C-check in Europe among other forms of challenges. As if these problems are not enough, the airline does not have money to procure aviation fuel for the nine operational aircraft because no dealer wants to sell aviation fuel to Arik if it is not on cash-and-carry basis. This also calls for public understanding because flight schedules may be realigned based on the nine aircraft that are available, technically sound and ready for flight operation. It was also discovered that Arik also owes its technical partners and also in perpetual default in its lease payments and insurance premium, leading to regular and embarrassing squabbles with different business partners, which account for why 21 aircraft are off the fleet for different reasons.
“All these problems, in addition to huge staff salaries, which have remained unpaid for 11 months; vendors that supply different items to Arik Airlines that are also owed, meant that Nigerians may have to tarry awhile to allow the new management clean up the huge mess at the airline before Arik would finally resume uninterrupted flight,” the statement said.
Capt. Ilegbodu assured that Arik Airlines would recover the 21 aircraft. “Once all the aircraft are back to the fleet, Arik Airlines would within the shortest possible time regain its pride of place as a leader among the comity of airlines in Nigeria. “Having settled the insurance cover for the aircraft, which would have expired on February 12 and met with different trade creditors as well as aggrieved staff, Arik will return to full operational capacity within the shortest possible time frame,” he said.
By Dike Onwuamaeze