The Nigerian government on Thursday said it had taken over the operations of Arik Air, the country’s largest domestic carrier currently immersed in huge financial debt.
Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika told reporters in Abuja, the nation’s capital, that the takeover was timely and would ensure stability in the operations of the airline.
“This will enhance the long-term economic value of Arik Air and revitalize the airline’s ailing operations as well as sustain safety standards, in view of the airline’s pivotal role in the Nigerian aviation sector,” Sirika said.
The airline has been noted to be in a precarious situation largely due to its heavy financial debt burden, bad corporate governance, erratic operational challenges and other issues.
The Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), the government’s agency taking over the airline’s operations, said its immediate intervention was necessary “in order to guarantee the continued survival of Arik Air.”
AMCON’s spokesman Jude Nwauzor said the debt burden on the largest local carrier had threatened to ground its operations.
“More than eight aircraft are currently grounded at the tarmac making it difficult to meet their routine commercial flights,” he said in a statement made available to Xinhua.
Arik Air is believed to carry about 55 percent of the load in Nigeria, according to official data.
The Nigerian government said this takeover underscores its plan to instill sanity in the nation’s aviation sector. Enditem