The Federal Government has taken over the operations of troubled Arik Air to save it from total collapse.
On Wednesday, DAILY NIGERIAN exclusively reported that Nineteen foreign pilots employed by the company have filed a petition in a UK High Court of Justice (Chancery) sitting at The Rolls Building, 7 Rolls Buildings, Fetter Lane, London, seeking to shut down the company over non-payment of their salaries to the tune of $600,000.
The Airline, which carries about 55 percent of the load in the country, has been going through difficult times that are attributable to its bad corporate governance, erratic operational challenges, inability to pay staff salaries and heavy debt burden among other issues.
These have led to the calls for authorities in the country to intervene before Arik goes under like many before it.
Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCON), in a statement said: “We assure all stakeholders that the intervention is in the best interest of the general public, workers, creditors and other aviation interest groups.”
The move, which clearly underscores government’s decision to instill sanity in the nation’s aviation sector has also prevented a major catastrophe that would among other factors protect, and preserve Arik Airlines as a going concern.
The development will afford Arik Airlines, which is the largest local carrier to go back to regular and undisrupted operations, avoid job losses, protect investors and stakeholder funds as well as ensure safety and stability in the already challenged aviation sector.
The airline would now be managed by Capt. Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu, a veteran aviation expert under the receivership of Oluseye Opasanya.
Explaining the rationale for the latest intervention in Arik Airlines, Senator Hadi Siriki, minister of State for Aviation, said, “We believe that this appointment is timely and will stabilize the operations of the airline.
“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.”
The minister who further pledged that the federal ministry of Aviation would support the new management of the strategic 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.
Similarly, Capt. Ilegbodu, under the receivership of Opasanya, SAN 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 Arik, improve customer experience, and sustain the safety, reliable and secure operational history of the airline 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.
On February 8, 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.