Arik Air has been behaving badly; owing everyone and delaying flights. So, AMCON took over running of its operations
At least in theory.
It's been long in coming.
Arik's finances have been a mess.
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) took over the operations of Nigeria's biggest carrier, and named Capt. Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu as its new manager.
On Wednesday, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), moved to the Lagos head office of Arik and took turns to quiz Mr. Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, who is the Chairman of the Airline.
Aviation sources have told Pulse that Arik is owing several agencies a cumulative N300B or more.
According to a similar story in Punch, Arik is owing AMCON N135B out of that N300B debt sum.
Arik has been going through difficult times--it boasts poor customer service, inability to pay salaries of employees, planes in poor flying conditions and poor management.
The Airline was registered as a going concern in 2002 and commenced flying in 2006.
ALSO READ: Airline has been such a bad boy
In 2009, Arik launched its New York route which it has managed thrice a week; amidst complaints bordering on delayed and cancelled flights.
It's been one sad tale after another from customers, over Arik.
Labour Unions have picketed and shut down activities of the airline on one too many occasion.
Andrew Umogbai who is Customer Service Liaison Manager for Arik was beaten to a pulp and hauled to the floor by irate passengers in January, 2017.
Arik has become the clearest example yet, of how not to run a business in Nigeria and it was becoming increasingly clear that something had to give.
In stepped the federal government through AMCON.
“For some time now, the airline, which carries about 55 per cent of the load in the country, has been going through difficult times that are attributable to its bad corporate governance and erratic operational challenges," said AMCON spokesperson Jude Nwauzor.
He added that: “Others are inability to pay staff salaries and heavy debt burden among other issues, which led to the call for authorities in the country to intervene before the airline goes under like many before it".
The federal government said it had to intervene before Arik completely goes under.
Arik has hundreds of Nigerians on its payroll. Its imminent demise would have compounded the nation's economic and unemployment woes.
Aso Rock considered Arik too big to fail.
According to Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika,“We believe that this takeover is timely and will stabilise the operations of the airline.
“This will enhance the long term economic value of Arik Air and revitalise the airline’s ailing operations as well as sustain safety standards, in view of the airline’s pivotal role in the Nigerian aviation sector".
Arik isn't folding its arms as the federal government moves to take over operations.
Captain Ado Sanusi who serves as the Deputy Managing Director of the ailing airline, has said the company will fight AMCON's takeover of its business operations.
ALSO READ: AMCON takes over Airline
Sanusi said Arik will challenge the takeover in court.
“We were served with the court order this morning, Arik Air will comply with the order. The airline has the right to challenge the order and will.
“We may disagree on certain issues, but we have agreed that air operations should continue and not be paralysed. We will make our position known to our various stakeholders and partners, but we will challenge this order to the highest level.”
Pulse can confirm that Arik Air operations haven't been truncated after checks by our correspondents at the international and domestic wings of the Lagos Airport, Friday.