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International creditors to sue FG as AMCON scales down Arik operations by 70%

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Written by Maritime First
  • Arik Air owes IATA $78m – AMCON

Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, has scaled down flight operations of Arik Air to less than 30 percent.

This is just as international creditors to the airline are set to sue Federal Government over the take-over of the airline.

Vanguard check reveals that the airline, which at peak periods used to operate 120 flights a day now operates about 15 flights, with very low load factor. Also, out of the 28 operating aircraft fleet, only eight are now in operation, which include two Bombardier, CRJ 900, one Bombardier Q400 and five Boeing 737.

The Q400 is in a dedicated service with Chevron, so the airline has in essence seven operating aircraft. Immediately after AMCON took over the company, it suspended the international operations of the airline and the lean fleet size has also forced it to cut back its domestic and regional operations.

Meanwhile, a reliable source close to the airline who pleaded anonymity told Vanguard 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.”

The source further revealed that the creditors are harmonizing their briefs and putting their resources together to institute a unified suit against the government for the airline’s failure to honour its international obligations.

There are still pending issues involving workers’ salaries, as those who were owed two months’ salary (December and January) before the February 8, 2017 take-over were paid January salary and told that their December salary should be paid by the former management.

This was revealed by a staff who does not want to be named. Cabin crew personnel whose November flight allowances were supposed to be paid with December basic salary are said to be facing similar fate.

In the meantime, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on Monday said Arik Air, under its previous management, owed the International Air Transport Association (IATA) $78m.

The Media Consultant to Arik Air, Simon Tumba, gave the figure while speaking with newsmen in Lagos.

The airline was on February 9 taken over by the Federal Government under the auspices of AMCON as a result of its huge debt profile.

AMCON appointed Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, a veteran aviation expert, to manage the airline under the receivership of Mr Oluseye Opasanya (SAN).

Tumba said the debt was for all aviation services provided under the platform of IATA, which recently suspended the airline from its Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) and Cargo Account Settlement System (CASS).

He said, “Arik Air under the former management was owing everywhere they operated. Apart from the over N300bn owed to AMCON, the airline also owes about N50bn to Nigerian banks and another $78m to IATA.

“The airline was also in credit to their fuel suppliers and was not able to pay staff salaries for months.

“There was no good corporate governance in Arik as most decisions were single-handedly taken by the executive chairman.”

According to him, out of the almost 30 aircraft in the airline’s fleet, only about 10 are currently serviceable, which made the new management to reduce its routes and flight operations.

He said that the new management also discovered that Arik had no record of gains and losses of operations carried out in 2015.

Tumba said the management in collaboration with AMCON had appointed KPMG to carry out a forensic audit on the airline, and the result would be out in 10 weeks.

He said, “AMCON is not interested in liquidating Arik Air. We believe that the airline, which has one of the youngest fleet in Africa, can be turned around through good corporate governance and financial discipline.

“The current management is looking at the backlog of salaries owed staff because the staff should be motivated to get the airline running properly.

“The current management is working with the government to add five aircraft to the fleet to increase its size and the airline’s routes.

“We have also resolved the issue of fuel supply, which has improved Arik Air’s flight operations since the takeover.”

 

Vanguard with additional report from Ships & Ports

 

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Maritime First