By Sade Williams
Barely two weeks after Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) took over the management of Arik Airlines, Nigeria’s largest local carrier, a lot of positive and cheery developments have returned at the airline.
Although the airline now managed by Capt. Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu, under the receivership of Mr. Oluseye Opasanya, SAN were confronted with a barrage of challenges created by the sacked Arik management, they have been able to eventually surmount the problems to stabilize operations with the few aircraft on the fleet.
A statement from AMCON said on Sunday that unlike what obtained before the takeover, average On-Time-Performance (OTP) of Arik Air to different destinations has improved; Nigerian banks that hitherto turned their backs to Arik now cooperate and support the new management; engagement with international and local creditors have also been successful; just as discussions with critical service providers and industry stakeholders have yielded the much desired positive results.
It added that Arik has also paid the insurance premium, which was on the verge of expiring had AMCON not taken over on February 9, 2017.
Arik, it said has also commenced the payment of outstanding salaries, which has greatly boosted staff morale as well as performance. Arik is also in discussion with different creditors and stakeholders to recall a good number of aircraft into the fleet as soon as possible, which will increase the number of daily flights.
Aside from that, a good number of affected passengers have been refunded while efforts are on to reach out to those yet to get their refund as a result of suspension of flights to some routes.
“As a result of these positive developments, customers of Arik especially from the corporate circle are gradually coming back with assurances of stable and professional management with improving performance record within a short period, which is buoyed by the fact that Arik has unparalleled safety record that speaks for itself in the history of aviation in the country. The new management of the airline under the auspices of AMCON has held series of fruitful engagements with major suppliers of aviation fuel (ATK), and agreements reached for regular supplies of the product to Arik, which has guaranteed regular flights”, it said.
In a related development, the new management of Arik during the week, sent out a communication to its numerous customers and stakeholders across the country and beyond.
The statement said, “The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), in furtherance of its statutory mandate has appointed Mr. Oluseye Opasanya, SAN (the Receiver) as Receiver/Manager over all the assets and entire undertakings ofArik Air Limited (Arik Air) pursuant to a Deed of Appointment dated 06 February 2017.
“By virtue of his appointment, the Receiver has engaged the services of an experienced and capable technical partner, Captain Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu, a veteran aviation expert with over 35 years’ experience, to provide seamless management and transitional services to Arik Air, with minimal disruptions to the Company’s operations and overall business…We thank you for your continued support and appreciate your patronage of Arik Air.”
Drama as Arik officials allege AMCON Scales Down Operations by 30%
…say International Creditors plan to sue FG
Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has scaled down Arik Air operations to less than 30 percent, an Arik Air official who spoke to newsmen on Sunday alleged.
He explained that the airline, which at peak periods operates 120 flights a day now operates about 15 flights daily with very low load factor.
Out of 28 operating aircraft only eight are now in operation, which include two Bombardier, CRJ 900, one Bombardier Q400 and five Boeing 737. The Q400, he said is in a dedicated service with Chevron, so the airline has seven operating aircraft.
This he said, has forced Arik to cut back its domestic and regional operations, as it suspended its international service immediately after AMCON took over the company.
He also hinted that international financiers and other creditors of the airline have concluded plans to sue the Federal Government after 30 days of AMCON management of the airline.
He added that the creditors are putting their resources together for one suit against the government for the airline’s failure to honour its international obligations.
He disclosed that Arik workers who were owed two months salary (December and January) before AMCON took over the management of the company on February 8, 2017, were paid January salary, claiming that AMCON said that December salary should be paid by the former management before it took over the company.
It was gathered from the official that Cabin crew personnel whose November flight allowances were supposed to be paid with December basic salary said they do not hope that the money would be paid now that AMCON said the former management should pay them December salary.
“We were actually owed two months salary before AMCON took over. I know that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) insisted that Arik must pay all of us all outstanding salary by December 31, which the airline did, after the labour strike, so it was December and January that was owed us,” one of the officials of the airline said.
Speaking further, he said: “AMCON has not been able to restore the passengers confidence and because we have scaled down our flights, passengers would rather chose other airlines than come to Arik. Yesterday (February 25) we operated to Benin from Lagos with only 18 passengers going and on the return leg. It is only Port Harcourt service that we still have reasonable number of passengers,”.
While lamenting that Nigeria has lost the West Coast and other African destinations to Asky, AWA and Ivory Coast national carrier because Arik has stopped most of its regional flight service, he explained that Arik is the only Nigerian airline that operates to Dakar, Senegal, Abidjan, Code’Ivoire, Luanda, Angola and Libreville, Gabon adding that since it was taken over by AMCON it has stopped operating to most of these destinations.
The airline, he said, used to operate six flights to Accra from Abuja and Lagos and these flights have been scaled down to two since the AMCON take over and with many of the aircraft on the ground as AOG (Aircraft on Ground), ‘it is not certain that the airline would even continue to operate any of these destinations in the West Coats.
“What AMCON has done is that it has cut back flights because of inadequate supply of fuel but all the flights that it still operates are on time. So it has restored on time flights service but only 30 per cent of the flights or less are still operating. In the immediate past before their take over, Arik flights were characterised by delays and cancellations. It is really tough for AMCON to effectively manage the airline,” the official added.