By Chinedu Eze
There are indications that Arik Air which management was taken over on Wednesday by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigerian (AMCON) has started going through a new lease of life.
According to the head of AMCON media consultant, SY and T, Simon Tumba, within 24 hours of intervention by the government, Arik Air “is receiving assistance to be able to offer flight services.”
In a statement made available to THISDAY at the weekend, Tumba said: “Following AMCON’s intervention, it has now being gathered that virtually all of Arik’s trade creditors are being owed, staff salaries have not been paid for between 4- 6 months, and of the 28 aircraft in Arik’s fleet, only 10 are in operation.
“Due to AMCON’s intervention, flights are operating and the insurance cover for the aircraft, which would have expired on Sunday, February 12, has now been sorted and trade creditors and fuel marketers have been assured that all indebtedness will be looked into. They have offered to support the new management to get operations run smoothly. Flight schedule may therefore be realigned to match the 10 aircraft in the fleet, while also sorting out the myriad of problems confronting the airline,” Tumba said.
According to him, it was obvious that without government intervention Arik would have virtually stopped operation by today.
“AMCON is making efforts to return the aircraft in various parts of the world in repair yards, with the aim of stabilising the airline to offer safe, secure and timely services to customers,” he added.
However, the industry think-tank, Aviation Round Table (ART) has reacted to the take-over of Arik Air management.
According to the President of ART, Gbenga Olowo, “We all saw it coming to Arik and may be others more than a year ago. ART first quarter breakfast meeting in 2016 appraised the very poor situation of Nigerian airlines and rose with unambiguous communique on the way forward.
“Treating the Arik case in isolation will be to trivialize the magnitude of the problem. Going back to almost 40 years, Government airline Nigeria Airways failed, Pioneer Private airlines Okada, Kabo, etc failed, third generation ADC, Bellview, Chachangi, Sosoliso, etc failed, fourth generation Richard Branson Virgin Nigeria, Air Nigeria, etc failed. Believe me, given the same Nigeria operating environment the National carrier yet to be born will fail. Essentially it is a Nigerian business environmental factor,” Olowo said.
He noted that business and government are permanently at variance because in government run business cost is higher than income permanently.
“Tax overburden and infrastructural deficit erodes revenue steadily. Gazetted policies that will enhance performance are not implemented. Credit is not in the Nigeria business dictionary. Yet aviation is prone to the most minute situation in the economy ranging from weather to politics, reckless holidays,” Olowo lamented.
He attributed the failure of the industry over the years to lack of will to do things right by leadership and the owners of the airlines.