Arik Air passengers were left stranded at t he General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Wednesday April 20, as flight operations of Nigeria’s largest indigenous airline were disrupted by members of several aviation unions over an alleged N12.4 billion debt owed the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Aviation workers under the aegis of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) barricaded Arik operational areas with placards like: “Arik, Pay Your 12.4bn Debt”; “FAAN can no longer pay salaries, pension, staff claims due to your debt”; “Debtors pay all you owe FAAN now!” Arik if you can’t pay don’t fly”.
Scores of passengers travelling out of Lagos on Wednesday stranded and many were seen demanding a refund from the airline staff while others were making alternative arrangements.
As a result of the development, the airline has suspended all its domestic flights until the situation normalizes.
The General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) Olayinka Abioye, in a statement said the union engaged in picketing exercise against Arik Air over its indebtedness to FAAN in the sum of N12.5b
Arik Air spokesman, Adebanji Ola also confirmed the picketing exercise in a statment, saying the union under FAAN stalled its operations over “unsubstantiated claims” of its indebtedness, a case which is before a Lagos Federal High Court.
Ola apologized for the inconveniences that the FAAN workers’ union action may have caused their esteemed passengers . “We live to serve the needs of the people of the great nation Nigeria,” he said.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with FAAN and other aviation agencies to resolve the impasse and return to our core purpose of providing essential world class services to the people of Nigeria”, he added.