The Receiver Manager of the flagging commercial carrier, Arik Air, Mr. Oluseye Opasanya, on Thursday, explained that the takeover of Arik Air by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) was done to rescue the airline’s operations and enhance its capacity to provide satisfactory service to passengers.
Mr. Opasanya, who spoke in Lagos shortly after AMCON announced the takeover of the airline on Thursday, said AMCON, following consultations with the Federal Government, appointed him to run the affairs of the airline in a bid to services.
The Receiver Manager also explained that Captain Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu has been made the Managing Director.
“AMCON will ensure that it supports the airline with people of great knowledge and experience to improve the fortunes of the airline,” he said.
The Receiver Manager added that he had informed the airline’s management and staff on the new development and the need to keep the airline alive because it occupies an important position in the country’s aviation industry. He explained that through the media, other stakeholders would be informed of AMCON’s commitment to keeping the airline afloat.
“AMCON is willing to support the operations of Arik Air together with the support of the government to meet the essential needs of the company,” he said.
He added that AMCON would discuss with other creditors, local and foreign, of the airline, with a view to securing their cooperation and commitment.
Mr. Opasanya described Arik Air’s debt to AMCON as huge but declined to give an exact figure.
He stated that AMCON’s goal is to rescue the airline from collapse. He reasoned that talking about the scale of indebtedness may be debilitating to the airline.
“For now, I would prefer not to mention figures. The mission is to rescue the airline, and if we begin to talk about the nature of indebtedness, the information may be harmful. Management believes in the commitment I have made and believe in the airline.
“The next step is to run the business, make staff happy and keep the airline’s airplanes in the air,” he said.
However, Captain Ado Sanusi, Deputy Managing Director of Arik Air, said the airline would challenge the Federal High Court order directing AMCON to take over the management of the airline.
“We were served with the court order this morning (February 9). Arik Air will comply with the order. The airline has the right to challenge the order and will challenge the court order.
“We might disagree on certain issues, but we have agreed that air operations should continue and not be paralyzed. We will make our position known to our various stakeholders and partners. We will challenge this order to the highest level,” he said
AMCON had earlier announced that the airline has a debt of about N135 billion to it alone, stating that Arik Air, which carries about 55 percent of the country’s passenger load, has been enduring difficult times. The difficulties, explained AMCON, were occasioned by bad corporate governance, erratic operational challenges, inability to pay staff salaries and heavy debt burden among other issues.