By Sade Williams
Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has been accused of cannibalising Arik Air aircraft and using the parts to repair the fleet of Aero Contractors.
Sources from the airline disclosed that an engine of a Bombardier Dash 8, Q400 was taken away from Arik aircraft with registration, 5N-BKV and given to Aero to fix in the same aircraft type, which broke down recently in Kaduna.
According to a source involved in the transaction, it was a second engine of the aircraft that was removed in a lease agreement in which Aero would be paying Arik $25,000 a month until the engine was returned to Arik.
The airline source also alleged that besides the engine, other parts were removed from the aircraft to repair the Aero aircraft, adding that AMCON by taking such safety critical decision has forgotten that it took over the airline’s management does not mean that the airline belongs to the Corporation to take such action that could jeorpardise its safety standard.
“The agreement term that Aero agrees to pay $25,000 a month for the engine is exploitative and against the interest of Arik because in other parts of the world when this lease arrangement is done the airline pays for the engine per hour and should also pay for maintenance reserve for the engine, which were not done in the so-called lease between Arik and Aero,” an inside Arik source said.
The source also noted that the aircraft from which the part has been cannibalized may have been destroyed because it was not only that part that was taken from the aircraft.
“You cannibalise Arik aircraft and give the parts to Aero. It is not only that engine that was taken away but other parts were taken away. The engine taken away is engine number two. Since AMCON took over Aero five years ago its debts has increased and its fleet depleted. They talked about corporate governance but under that corporate governance Aero has not improved; rather its existence is being threatened.
“When AMCON took over Arik, the airline had 15 serviceable aircraft but AMCON claimed they were 10. Now, from that 10, Arik has four aircraft. The new management owes all fuel markers N450 million. So AMCON has started cannibalizing Arik Air aircraft who knows the next thing it wants to do. Their flights have decreased and there are still delays. From all these it has become obvious that AMCON cannot manage the airline,” the inside source said.
When contacted, a top official of Aero Contractors acknowledged the lease of Arik aircraft engine and said the action is legal and an international practice, which is known all over the world.
The source also said that the airline could have leased the engine from any other airline in the world, but it decided to take that of Arik because the money being paid would remain in the country.