The new management of Arik Air has said it inherited nearly an empty shell of a carrier with only 10 out of the 28 aircraft in its fleet functional at the moment.
It also said that the rot in the company would require N10bn to fix before the airline would be able to resume full and uninterrupted flight operations to its regular routes across the country and beyond.
The airline was on Thursday taken over by the Federal Government through the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria due to a debt profile of over N300bn.
It was gathered that only 10 out of the 28 aircraft in the fleet of the airlines were operational, with 18 either grounded or had gone for C-check in Europe.
The Capt. Roy Ilegbodu led management said in a statement on Sunday, “As if these problems are not enough, the airline does not have money to procure aviation fuel for the nine operational aircraft because no dealer wants to sell aviation fuel to Arik except it is on a cash-and-carry basis. This also calls for public understanding because flight schedules may be realigned based on the nine aircraft that are available and are technically sound and ready for flight operations.
“It was also discovered that Arik also owes its technical partners and is also in perpetual default in its lease payments and insurance premium, leading to regular and embarrassing squabbles with different business partners, which accounts for why 18 aircraft are off the fleet for different reasons.
“All these problems, in addition to huge staff salaries, which have remained unpaid for 11 months, and vendors that supply different items to Arik Air who are also owed, meant that Nigerians may have to tarry a while to allow the new management clean up the huge mess at the airline before Arik will finally resume uninterrupted flights.”
Ilegbodu, who operates under the receivership of Mr. Oluseye Opasanya, SAN, reassured Nigerians that the issues, though daunting, would be gradually resolved to enable Arik, which carries about 55 per cent of the load in the country, to recover the 18 aircraft.
According to him, once all the aircraft are back, Arik Air will in the shortest possible time regain its pride of place as a leader among the airlines in Nigeria.
He reiterated that the intervention of the government in the operations of the carrier clearly underscored its decision to instil sanity in the nation’s aviation sector, adding that the move also prevented a major disaster that would have befallen the airline.
Having settled the insurance cover for the aircraft, which would have expired on February 12, and met with different trade creditors as well as aggrieved staff members, Ilegbodu called for public understanding as the tough job of ensuring that Arik returned to full operational capacity within the shortest possible time begins.
He stated that the recent intervention was in the best interest of all stakeholders, including members of the general public, workers, creditors and other aviation interest groups in the country.
A media consultant to the new Arik management, Mr. Simon Tumba, told our correspondent that the liabilities of the carrier to different creditors were still being compiled and that many of the departments had yet to brief the Ilegbodu-led team.
He added that it was after the briefings by the different departments at the end of this week that a proper report about the true state of health of the airline would be ready, adding that new flight schedules would also be released to guide passengers based on the operational aircraft.
Tumba added that Arik was still operating flights on its Lagos-London and Lagos-Johannesburg routes, while only the Lagos-New York route had been suspended due to non-availability of functional aircraft.