By Chinedu Eze
Nigeria’s major carrier Arik Air has claimed its flights were disrupted on Friday by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) against court order that directed the airline should be allowed to operate flights uninterrupted.
Arik said the agency disrupted its operations at the domestic General Aviation Terminal and international terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, as workers of the agency prevented Arik Air from gaining access to the Airside of both terminals.
According to the airline, access to the airside was critical and fundamental to the airline’s operations for moving catering, supplies and other sundry items to the aircraft, as well as the movement of its personnel to ready the aircraft for departure.
“This access is also necessary for the airline to conduct secondary security screening, mandatory security checks and for securing the aircraft at all times in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and recommended practice,” Arik said.
The airline noted that this was not the first time that FAAN had taken the law into its own hands as it had resorted to such strong-arm tactics against the airline in the past and most recently in May this year.
“It is already in the public domain that Arik Air and FAAN have a lingering disagreement on the long-standing and unsubstantiated claim by FAAN of spurious indebtedness of the airline to the agency which is now before the Federal High Court in Lagos, at the instance of FAAN,” Arik also said.
It said FAN and Arik were reconciling payment accounts between the institutions over the charges paid by Arik Air to date and in this regard ,Arik Air had been providing all the needed assistance and cooperation to conclude the reconciliation process.
“However, FAAN has shown total disregard for the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by carrying out such disruptive action again,” the airline said.
It recalled that in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1558/2015 brought by FAAN against Arik Air before a Federal High Court in Lagos, the court on 20 June, 2016 had ordered that both parties maintain status quo ante-bellum until Ruling on the Ex-parte is delivered.
The matter was further adjourned to 10 October, 2016.
On several occasions in the past weeks, Arik Air has equally served the order of the court to FAAN since they claimed ignorance of the ruling.
”Blatant defiance of the laws of the country and disrespect to the High Court should not be tolerated and we appeal to the judiciary to intervene in this matter and take appropriate action to uphold the laws of the nation..
“This unjustifiable disruption by FAAN has further inconvenienced the travel plans of thousands of passengers who were already affected due to the acute scarcity of aviation fuel (Jet A1) in the recent weeks,” the airline also said.
It apologised to its esteemed passengers for any inconvenience experienced due to this unwarranted disruption and unlawful action by FAAN.
FAAN was not on hand to confirm the incident.