Arik Air has suspended its international flight operations to the London and Johannesburg routes.
The spokesman of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, Jude Nwauzor, made the announcement in a statement issued on Tuesday in Lagos. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that AMCON had on February 9 taken over the airline following its huge indebtedness to the company and other creditors, both local and foreign. Arik, which was set up in 2006, has a 60 percent share of domestic flights in Nigeria.
AMCON said Arik had failed to repay loans totalling 135 billion naira ($429 million, 402 million euros) by the end of December and also had debts to “a lot of foreign creditors”. Staff salaries have not been paid for up to eight months and it had defaulted on payments for insurance, repairs and servicing of its planes, it added.
Mr. Nwauzor said the suspension would enable Arik Air to find permanent solution to problems facing its passengers and carry out a thorough assessment of its situation. He said :"The strategic business decision is meant to realign our operations and refocus on satisfying our domestic and West Africa and other international passengers.
"It will also present Arik with excellent opportunity to engage and discuss with creditors who have become restive since the intervention and have also understandably exhausted their patience due to non-payment of accumulated debt and non-performance on services and contracts." Mr. Nwauzor said consequent upon this, arrangements were being made to refund all international passengers of the airline that were affected by this decision.
"To our international creditors, Arik is most grateful for your patience and understanding. "We reassure them that all pending issues with the airline will be duly addressed as a matter of priority as we plan to engage them in this regard," he added. According to him, the international route is very critical for the strategic turn around, growth strategy and stability of the airline.
Mr. Nwauzor said the airline intends to revisit the routes immediately it addresses all the problems inherited, which was affecting and creating more dissatisfied passenger base.
"We appeal to all passengers to kindly bear with us as the decision is to ensure that the airline adheres strictly to international aviation best practices," he said.