The Federal Government announced on Thursday via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON that it would be taking over took Arik Airlines.
The government said this move was in a bid to save the country’s aviation industry from total collapse. The government also announced that Roy Ilegbodu, a veteran aviation expert, would take over the management of the airline under the receivership of Oluseye Opasanya, a senior advocate of Nigeria.
AMCON spokesperson, Jude Nwauzor, said:
“The development will afford Arik Airlines, which is the largest local carrier in the country, 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”
Arik Air controls about 55 per cent of the country’s passenger traffic but has been struggling financially as a result of heavy financial debt burden, weak corporate governance, operational difficulties and bad management.
AMCON decried the fact that Arik staff salaries hadn’t been paid for months and the company was in constant default in its lease payment and insurance arrangements. It also said ARIK Air had the most demotivated workforce in the industry.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the government’s decision to take over the management of Arik Airlines would stabilize its operations in view of its pivotal role in the Nigerian aviation sector.
The airline has been operating extremely erratic schedules with its flights routinely either delayed or cancelled without explanations.
Other corporate issues, which have eroded Arik brand reputation, include negligence of operational regulations, luggage pilfering or outright disappearances, poor corporate governance, and disregard for safety procedures.
The minister said:
“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”
Prior to the takeover, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, stormed the head office of the airline, to meet with its Chairman, Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide.
Reacting to the takeover, Senior Vice President, Arik Air, Ado Sanusi, said the company would challenge the taking over of the airline in court.
Ado Sanusi, made the disclosure at a joint news conference with the newly appointed receiver manager, Oluseye Opasanya.
Sanusi said the airline had been served with a valid court order empowering AMCON to take over the company.
“As responsible citizens, we have obeyed the court order which appointed the Olaniwun Ajayi (SAN) as the receivership manager.”
“We will comply but I want to make it clear that we have a right to challenge the court order.”
“In the coming days, we will make our position known. It is a court order and we can challenge it and we will challenge it to the highest court of authority”
He added that while the legal battle would be on one front, the parties had agreed that Arik Airlines would continue to run without any disruptions to its services.