Embattled Arik Air has suspended flight operations to London and Johanesbourg pending the resolution of their biff with the Federal Government in connection with their debt profile. The company was taken over by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON,, because af an alleged N300billion debt profile, and claimed to source for N10 billion to stabilize the company. But fears are expressed in some quarters that AMCON was using the takeover as a ruse to convert the Airline to the much talked about National Carrier. Arik has already said they are heading to court to challenge the takeover.
Even with the announcement of the takeover, the Airline has continued its normal services, though speculations are rife that the Arik suspension of these routes are not unconnected with the withdrawal of British Airways and South African Airways from the Abuja route during the time that flights to Abuja will be diverted to Kaduna Airport. Federal Government decision to close down the Airport due to repairs have generated mixed feelings in recent times, and many foreign airlines were openly grumbling about the security implications of transporting passengers by road from Kaduna to Abuja. Protests by the Niger state government that Minna Airport is closer to Abuja fell on deaf ears as the minister of state for Aviation , Hadi Sirika, insisted on Kaduna as the temporary airport.
In a release by the Airline, the Airline cited permanent solution to their financial problems as reason.
“This is to bring to the notice of our traveling public our intention to suspend our international flight operations to enable us find permanent solution facing our passengers as it will enable us to carry out a thorough assessment of the situation.”
‘The strategic business decision is meant to realign our operations and refocus on satisfying our domestic and West Africa and other international passengers. It will also present Arik with excellent opportunity to engage and discuss with creditors who have become restive since the intervention and have also understandably exhausted their patience due to non-payment of accumulated debt and non-performance on services and contracts.”
“Consequent upon this, arrangements are being made to refund all international passengers of the airline that are affected by this decision.”
“To our international creditors, Arik is most grateful for your patience and understanding. We reassure them that all pending issues with the airline will be duly addressed as a matter of priority as we plan to engage them in this regard.”
“The international route is very critical for the strategic turn around, growth strategy and stability of the airline. Therefore we intend to revisit the routes immediately we address all the problems inherited, which is affecting and creating more dissatisfied passenger base. We appeal to all passengers to kindly bear with us as the decision is to ensure that the airline adheres strictly to international aviation best practices. ” the airline said.