The Managing Director of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Mr. Ahmed Kuru, has urged the federal government to use the Arik Airline as a stepping stone towards setting up a national carrier.
He said that would save the country money rather than trying to set up a new airline brand from the scratch, especially in the face of the nation’s current financial realities.
He also called on the National Assembly to reform the aviation sector by reducing the different layers of charges by different agencies, which makes it extremely difficult for airline to survive in the country.
He said, “Arik has enough aircraft and facilities that can be used to set up a new airline.
Even if the government wants to set up a national carrier to service just the domestic market, which currently has a lot of gap, it is possible with what Arik currently has.
Today if you want to travel to Lagos from Abuja and you did not book your ticket two or three days earlier, the chances are that you may not get a seat, which tells us that there is a serious gap.
To address the gap means that operators such as Slok Airlines and the likes may have to come back to Nigeria air space.
But for them to come back there needs to be a lot of aviation reforms, so that it will be attractive.
“There is something the National Assembly should do to help the aviation industry.
Why is it that there is no airline in Nigeria that has successfully existed for 10 years? We have successful businessmen in Nigeria, which tell you that what is happening in the aviation sector is a structural problem that needs to be address and I think the National Assembly has a role to play there.”
According to a statement by AMCON’s head of corporate communications, Jude Nwuzor, Kuru spoke when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions led by Senator Uba Sani, Chairman of the Committee and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, the Chief Whip of the Senate and Deputy Chairman of the committee, said that Arik Airline – with the right support and investment – had all that it takes to become a massive airline given the volume of reformative and transformational work AMCON did upon intervention in 2017.
“The AMCON chief executive also recalled how respite came the way of Arik Airlines, which was immersed in heavy financial debt burden that threatened to permanently ground the airline when AMCON took over and restructured the operations of the airline.
“Prior to AMCON intervention, the airline, which carries about 55 per cent of the load in the country, went through difficult times that were attributable to its bad corporate governance, erratic operational challenges, inability to pay staff salaries and heavy debt burden among other issues, which led to the intervention. If AMCON did not step in at the time it did, Arik would have gone under like many before it,” he said.