Arik Airlines May Be Grounded Permanently

An Arik Air aircraft
An Arik Air aircraft

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Arik airlines may be grounded soon because of its inability to settle financial obligations

THERE are strong indications that Arik Air is in a precarious situation largely attributable to its heavy financial debt burden, bad corporate governance, erratic operational challenges, weak management and other issues, which require immediate attention of all those concerned in order to guarantee the continued survival of the Airline.

The myriad of issues confronting Arik Air of late ranges from confiscation of air crafts due to non-payment of leases, frequent flight delays, constant fracas between Arik Staff and irate passengers at both local and international airports etc. The airline’s passengers getting stranded at the Airports has become a regular occurrence. During the last yuletide season, passengers were stranded in airports all over the country due to Arik’s incessant flight delays and cancellations, which negatively affected the preference they enjoy from passengers. Passengers of the airline getting stranded for days on their international routes have also become a normal feature now to the embarrassment of the country.

For instance, Arik’s inability to pay its workers for seven months pushed the United Labour Congress, ULC, and Engineers Union to recently shut the offices of the Airline across the country, causing untold hardship to thousands of travelers and an embarrassment to the aviation sector in the country. Besides owing workers’ salaries, the Airline has also not been remitting the taxes of workers to relevant bodies. The airline also owes virtually all its service providers, including insurance premium, leases etc. Its air crafts are under threat of being repossessed by equipment and fund providers. The signs, industry experts believe are not good.

Recently, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, directed Arik to pay N6 million penalty for violating operation regulations over delay of passengers’ luggage. The Airline was also mandated to pay $150 to each passenger whose luggage was delayed as inconveniences for days awaiting the delivery of their bags. Due to the Airlines negligence, decomposing body of a 30-year-old man was recently found by engineers in the wheel-well of Arik flight A330-200 during the scheduled routine maintenance check at the Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.

With this litany of irregularities, Arik is finding it extremely difficult to cope with the demands of its passengers, the Aviation authorities and the Unions as a result of continuous disruptions by members of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, NAAPE, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, and Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN.

The operations of the Airline have become extremely very erratic and precarious with many experts believing in the certainty of its imminent collapse.

The company founded in 2002 by Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, is on the brink of collapse due to sharp decline in passenger confidence, indiscipline, increasing concerns of the aviation authorities on the safety of its operations among others.

The strategic position the Airline holds of having the largest route coverage in the country calls for very urgent action from the Aviation authorities and other interested stake holders to rescue the company, in the interest of the Aviation industry, the traveling public and the workers.

“It is better to act now when it is still possible to redeem the situation. Allowing the airline to collapse is not an option because any further delay could be dangerous to the aviation industry,” a source who wishes anonymity told Realnews.

—  Feb 7, 2017 @ 15:50 GMT

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